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with the 


open Court Publishing Company 










The John J. and Hanna M. McManus 

Morris N. and Chesley V. Young 












Copyright, by 



Add to Lib, 















I. Introduction. I 

11. Washington Irving Bishop's Sealed Letter Reading 

in a New Dress 5 

III. Test Where a Trick Envelope with a Double Front 

is used 14 

IV. Test Where the Medium Secretly Filches a Letter 

from the Pocket of the Sitter 20 

V. The Mystic Oracle of the Swinging Pendulums, or 
Mind over Matter. — A Rapping Hand. — Light and 
Heavy Chest 28 

VI. Tests Given in a Large Store Room with Curtains 

for Partitions, Using Telegraphy, etc 35 

VIL A Billet Test Using a Trick Envelope.— A Spirit 
Message Written on a Slate, in the Sitter's Pres- 
ence 39 

VIII. Flower Materialization 50 

IX. The Dark Seance.— A Deceptive Grip, — Mental Tests 

— Spirit Voices, Taps, and Lights 53 

X. Materialization. — Preparation of Luminous Cos- 
tumes, Method of Presentation, etc 70 

XI. Tests Given in a Room in a Hotel— Slate-Writing 
on Slates Selected, Cleaned, and Held by Sitter. 
— Test Wherein the Sitter's Own Slates are Used. 
— Billet Work in Connection Therewith. — The 
Prepared Table 76 



XII. Reading Sealed Billets Before a Company in a Room 

in which Absolute Darkness Reigns 82 


I. Introduction 87 

II. Preparation of the Writings 91 

III. Reading the Writings. — Production of a Spirit Mes- 

sage 94 

IV. The Secrets Explained.— Slate Trick Requiring a 

Special Chair 100 

I. Introduction 1 14 

II. Message Produced on One of a Stack of Slates, 
First Method. — Method Using a Rug or News- 
paper 117 

HI. Message on One of a Stack of Slates, Second 
Method. — How to Pass the Slates from One Hand 
to the Other 122 

IV. Message Produced When but Two Examined Slates 
are Used. — Some Expert Maneuvering, and the 
Importance of the "Pass." 125 

V. Message Produced on One of Two Slates Selected 
from a Stack, Third Method, where the "Pass" 
and Some Expert Maneuvering are Introduced. — 
Production of a Message Written with a Gold 
Ring Belonging to the Sitter 129 

VI. To Secretly Read a Question Written on a Slate 
by a Sitter, when a Stack of Slates is Used. — 
How to Secretly Obtain a Confession or Ques- 
tion, Written on Paper and Sealed by the Sitter, 
when a Stack of Slates is Used 132 

VII. Message Produced on a Slate Cleaned and Held 

under a Table by a Sitter 138 



VIII. Slate Trick Requiring Three Slates and a Flap.— 
The Same Used as a Conjuring Trick.— Prepara- 
tion of the Slates 142 

IX. Slate Trick Requiring a Double-Hinged Slate and a 

Flap 150 

X. Independent Paper Writing.— Two Slates and a 

Silicate Flap Used I53 

XL Slate Trick with a Single Slate and a Flap, which 
is Suitable for Platform Production.— Methods of 
Forcing the Selection of a Certain Word. — Meth- 
ods of Forcing the Selection of a Sum of Figures. 
—The Same Trick Where Two Slates are Used. 
—The Same When Three Slates are Used, and a 
Spoken Question Answered, with Words in Col- 
ored Writing 156 

XII. Methods of Obtaining a Secret Impression of the 
Writing of a Sitter. — A Store-Room Reading 
where this is Used. — A Test Using a Prepared 
Book. — How to "Switch" a Question. — Tricks 
Depending on this Principle. — Tests Given by 
Various Chicago Mediums. — Reading a Message 
by Pressing it on a Skull Cap Worn by Medium. 164 

XIII. Tricks where the Sitter Brings his Own Slates. — 

Various Traps. — Psychometric Tests. — Message 
on Slates Wrapped in the Original Paper in which 
they were Purchased. — Other Messages 178 

XIV. Message on a Sitter's Slate Produced by a Rubber 

Stamp. — Message Produced by an Adroit Ex- 
change of Slates. — Chemical Tricks. — Other Meth- 
ods. — Means of Securing Information 188 


I. Presentation of the Tests 193 

II. Explanation of the Secrets 200 

III. The Same as Adapted to Work in a Double Parlor. 209 

IV. The Use of the Card Servante and Blackboard.... 2II 



Some Strange and Unusual Tests with an Explanation 215 

Additional Information i-35 


Tests in Connection with a Reproduction of the Sitter's 

Palm 246 


Questions Written and Retained by the Spectators an- 
swered by a Blindfolded Lady on the Stage 253 

Method Explained. 260 

Reading Billets for an Assembled Company 263 


Mediumistic Seances 266 

A Puzzling Case 280 

Spirit Portraiture 294 


Another Billet Test c 320 

The Swinging Pendulums Again 324 

Index 329 


IT is probably due to the scientific training of the 
present age that there are those amongst us who can 
not accept the promise of immortaHty on faith alone. 
Such as these require something in the nature of a 
positive proof for any belief which they may entertain. 
They seem unconsciously to realize that the chances 
of any unproven proposition or statement being untrue 
are vastly in the majority. 

Such persons seem to feel that if a race of thinking 
beings were slowly evolved upon a flying world, the 
majority of ideas which such beings would evolve in 
their minds, if unproven, would not correspond with 
objective facts ; that only those which could be proven 
in some manner would possess a value ; that the chances 
are greatly against the probability of the truth of un- 
proven ideas of things and existence in general ; also 
that minds which could in a superstitious age evolve 
and believe in such superstitions as witchcraft, sorcery, 
etc., might in the same age evolve and believe in other 
superstitions that are unwarranted by the facts, al- 
though pleasing to the individual. 

Such persons as these would solve the mystery of 
mysteries by the power of their intellect alone. Such 
as these would unlock the lips of nature and rob her 


of her secret, but to such as these no answer framed in 
words of hope has ever come. 

"We ask, yet nothing seems to know ; 

We cry in vain — 
There is no master of the show, 

Who will explain. 
Or from the future tear the mask, 
And yet we dream and yet we ask. 

"Is there beyond the silent night 

An endless day, 
Is death a door that leads to light ? 

We cannot say. 
The tongueless secret locked in fate 
We do not know, we hope and wait." 

"If a man die shall he live again?" This question 
of questions still appeals to the human heart with the 
same strength that it did in the days of old. Many 
solutions to this problem of problems have been of- 
fered, many times has man answered this question ; yet 
it ever and ever repeats itself in the human heart. 

If the structures which are our bodies must dissolve 
at death, does the innerness of these structures which 
is spirit vanish utterly? Does death hold for us but 
the promise of the same unfathomable gulf of black- 
ness out of which we came at birth? Is the eternal 
future to be to us the same as was the eternal past? 
Is life but a temporary abode on a peak that is touched 
by the fingers of light for a day, while all around yawns 
an infinite, shoreless gulf of impenetrable darkness, 
from one side of which we appeared and to whose 
other side we hurry to meet our destiny? 

We feel certain that both our material and spiritual 
parts are actualized by elements eternal and indestruc- 
tible. But does that something, other than these ele- 


ments— that which they actiiaHze, that creation which 
appears as a result of their combination in a special 
form, that something else which is ourselves — vanish 
utterly with the dissolution of the elements which tem- 
porarily actualize both our bodies and our spirits? 

Not long ago I saw an aged father lying in a coffin, 
— a pale, waxen figure, silent and cold. Around his 
bier stood the weeping relatives while the minister re- 
cited these lines : 

"Some time at eve when the tide is low, 

I shall slip my moorings and sail away, 
With no response to the friendly hail 

Of kindred craft in the busy bay. 
In the silent hush of the twilight pale, 

When the night stoops down to embrace the day, 
And the voices call in the water's flow — 

Some time at eve when the tide is low 
I shall slip my moorings and sail away. 

"Through purple shadows that darkly trail 

O'er the ebbing tide of the unknown sea, 
I shall fare me away with a dip of sail 

And a ripple of waters to tell the tale 
Of a lonely voyager, sailing away 

To mystic isles, where at anchor lay 
The craft of those who have sailed before 

O'er the unknown sea to the unseen shore. 

"A few who have watched me sail away 
Will miss my craft from the busy bay: 
Some friendly barks that were anchored near. 

Some loving souls that my heart held dear 
In silent sorrow will drop a tear. 

But I shall have peacefully furled my sail 
In moorings sheltered from storm or gale, 
And greeted the friends who have sailed before 
O'er the unknown sea to the unseen shore." 


I thought, as I listened, "Is this true, shall we 
greet again the friends that have gone before?" The 
cold facts of science and philosophy are poor consola- 
tion in a time like this. Then it is that but one promise 
can satisfy the longing of the human heart. 

When one lays a life-long companion in the tomb; 
when one looks for the last time on the pityful, pinched 
little face, and realizes that never, never again will the 
loved one answer to one's voice; then it is that the 
darkness of despair settles down on the night of the 
soul. The desire to again meet the loved one may be 
but a sentiment to which nature's answer will finally 
be, if not its gratification, the extinction of the senti- 
ment in annihilation ; yet the heart craves but one an- 
swer to its longings. 

Is it strange that the tired and weary soul, worn 
with its despair, should at times turn its breaking 
heart to these mystic priests of occultism for consola- 
tion — to these rnysterious beings that claim the power 
to summon from the silent abysses of emptiness, the 
shades of our beloved ones who have vanished and are 
but a m.emory ? It is the consolation of feeling beyond 
a doubt that one's dear one still exists, together with 
the love of the miraculous which lies in every nature, 
that makes it possible for these persons to perpetuate 
their religion. This religion requires a seeming mir- 
acle for the proof of its truth, but it is not the first 
religion in which miracles have played a part. 

One gray winter afternoon as the north wind was 
howling down the streets and swirling clouds of snow 
against my windows, I thought of some place to spend 
the evening that would break the loneliness. I noticed 
in a daily paper an advertisement of one of the high- 
priests of this strange religion, and I determined with 


a friend to visit the realm of the supernatural that 


Accordingly, my friend and I, together with some 
thirty or more other guests, assembled in the medium's 
parlors at eight o'clock. The Rev. Madame E., ''Cele- 
brated Occultist, Trance Medium, Clairvoyant, Pos- 
sessor of the Sixth Sense, etc., etc.," delivered the 
opening sermon. This sermon was certainly unique 
in its entire absence of ideas. I was involuntarily re- 
minded of the passage in Hamlet where Polonius says, 
"What do you read, my lord?" and Hamlet replies, 
"Words, words, words." 

I will however modify this statement. There was 
one idea which seemed to impress the spectators favor- 
ably, and its logic seemed to entirely satisfy them. It 
was the statement that "there never was an imitation 
of anything until after there had existed the genuine 
thing to be imitated ; that accordingly there never was a 
fraud until after there was something genuine of which 
the fraud was an imitation; now as there is fraud in 
mediumship, there must also be the genuine medium- 
ship of which the fraud is an imitation." 

This seemed to thoroughly convince the listeners, 
so the "Occultist" proceeded with her tests, giving 
every one in the room a test, which performance was 
really very effective. 

I will now describe the tests. Slips of paper were 
passed around with the request that each sitter write 
on the slip of paper given him a question which he 
desired to have answered. The sitters were also in- 
structed to address the questions to a spirit, and to sign 
their own names to them. After writing they were 


requested to fold the slips in halves with the writing 
inside. This was done. 

The manager then collected these questions in a hat 
and turned them out on the center table. The billets 
made quite a display in quantity as they lay carelessly 
on the table, and the medium paid no attention to them 
whatever. The medium now invited some spectator 
to blindfold her ; and taking a lady's kid glove, she 
first placed it over her eyes as an additional precaution, 
and then placing a large handkerchief over the glove 
she had the spectator tie it tightly behind her head. 
She then held her face to the audience and asked them 
if they were satisfied that s}ie was properly blindfolded. 
As there seemed no doubt on this point the medium 

She first informed the sitters that she would make 
no attempt to answer the questions asked, or even to 
read them, but that she would simply give them the 
impressions which she should receive from them, no 
matter how they applied or to what they referred. She 
also requested that each spectator speak right out and 
identify his message as soon as he should recognize 
the same as being for him. She now felt her way to 
the table, and took a seat at the side opposite the 
audience, so that she fated the audience with the table 
and billets between her and the spectators. She next 
nervously fingered a few of the billets; and opening 
some of them, she stacked them on the table, smooth- 
ing them out. 

She now took one of the billets, and smoothing it 
out, pressed it tightly against the bandage on her fore- 
head and began : 

"I get the vibration of a man who passed out very 


suddenly. It was entirely unlocked for, and I get the 
name of Fred." 

'That is for me," remarked a spectator. 

"Do you recognize him ?" 

"I do." 

"Yes, he was shot — shot right through here," said 
the medium, placing her hand to her breast. "Do you 
recognize this as a fact?" 

"I do," replied the sitter. 

"There was a baby, was there not?" asked the me- 

"There was," replied the sitter. 

"Where is this baby?" 

"That is what we want to know," the sitter an- 

The medium then said, "I see that she is well and 
growing. She is in the care of an elderly lady who is 
kind to her. She is east, for I go east to get the vibra- 
tion. She was taken by a younger lady and given to 
this elderly lady. Are you satisfied?" 

"I am," replied the spectator. 

The medium now took another slip of paper, and 
pressing it tightly to her bandaged forehead, gave the 
second test. 

"I get the influence of a younger lady. Her name is 

"That is for me," remarked an aged lady among the 

"You recognize her, do you ?" 

"I do." 

"You are her mother, for she comes to me as your 

"That is right," replied the lady. 


"You recognize this thoroughly, do you?" asked the 

"I do." 

"She says, 'Tell mother that nothing could have been 
done for me,' " said the medium. 

"She says that, does she?" asked the lady, as she 
began crying. 

"Yes, she says, 'Mother, nothing could have saved 
me ; you did all that it was possible to do,' " answered 
the medium. 

"Thank God for that," said the lady, with tears 
rolling down her aged cheeks, and her withered hands 
trembling violently. "I have worried much about 
that; I thought that perhaps she might have been 

"No, she could not have been," answered the me- 

The medium now took another slip of paper, and 
pressing it to her forehead, gave the third test. 

"I feel the influence of a lady around me, a rather 
young lady who died of consumption. I get the name 
of Priscilla." 

"That is for me," replied a spectator. 

"You recognize her, do you?" 

"I do." 

"She was your sister?" 


"She had high cheek bones and tawny brown hair, 
did she not?" asked the medium. 

"She did." 

"Several of your family had consumption, did they 
not?" asked the medium. 

"Yes, there are three dead," replied the spectator. 

"All from consumption?" 



"There are four of you alive," stated the medium. 

"Only three," corrected the sitter. 

"I get the vibration of four, or rather seven in your 
family : I am certain of this," stated the medium. 

"There were but six," corrected the gentleman. 

"There v^ere seven. There v^as a little child of 
whom you do not know," asserted the medium. 

It was impossible for me to remember any more of 
the tests literally ; but these three are a fair sample of 
some thirty or more, all about equally successful. The 
audience was visibly impressed and affected with this 
seance. The three tests I have given above are very 
accurately reported just as they occurred, for I exerted 
my memory to its utmost to fix them literally in my 
mind. She made a few errors ; but when she discov- 
ered she was following the wTong clue, she quickly 
adopted another course. She explained her error by 
saying that the vibration was broken or the influence 
weakened. When asked what good it did her to have 
written questions if she did not answer or read them, 
she replied that this helped her to get "concentration," 
whatever this may mean. Later on she came to my 
question, and gave me a test, as follows: 

"Mr. Abbott, I get for you the name of James. I 
feel the vibration of an elderly man with short chin 
whiskers. He is quite portly built, has very bright 
eves, and was always sarcastic. Do you recognize 

"I do," I replied. (I hope to be forgiven in the 
hereafter for this statement, but I did not want to 
throw discouragement on the seance.) 

"I see you give something wrapped up to this James, 
but I can not make out what it is," she said. 


"You are correct," I replied. 

I was thoroughly convinced that she was reading the 
questions, and that she was getting her information 
from the questions asked. I was sure that she took 
what information she could from each question and 
added to it from her fertile imagination and from the 
replies of the sitters; and that thus she produced the 
effect, which was certainly quite great, with the audi- 

Accordingly, after the seance, I sauntered around to 
the center table, and got an opportunity to read a few 
of the questions that were written on the slips of 

One read : "Fred : Who fired the fatal shot ? Where 
is the baby?" This was signed "George." This was 
the question from which the first test was given. If 
the reader will compare the first test given with this 
question, it will be seen that there is no information 
contained in the test, that could not be surmised from 
the question itself by a shrewd person. 

One question read, "Mary: Could anything have 
been done that would have saved you?" This was 
signed "Mother." This question was the one from 
which the second, test was given. It can be compared 
with the test with the same results as in the first case. 

Another question read, "Priscilla: Are we all to die 
of consumption?" This was signed "James H — ." 
In this case I feel sure that the medium knew, by the 
gentleman's voice and position in the room, whom she 
was addressing. The writer of this question had high 
cheek bones, and hair of a color that would indicate 
the description that the medium gave of his dead sister. 
It is possible that this gentleman had attended her 
former seances and that she knew him from former 


experiences. I feel sure that the medium studied the 
different characters in her room thoroughly while the 
company was gathering ; and that she remembered the 
peculiar looks of each, and in some cases, their voices. 

In one test she said, "I get the name of Frat or Prat, 
or something of the kind. I can not quite catch it." 
A spectator replied, "That is for me. It is Frat." 

I found that this question and the name were poorly 
written so that one could not tell with certainty 
whether the name began with an "F" or a *T." This 
proved that her difficulty was not in hearing the voice 
of the spirit, hut in reading the writing of the mortal. 

As to my own question, I addressed it to the name 
of a dead friend. The name was "Will J — ." I wrote 
it hurriedly with no support for the paper but my hand, 
and the last name resembled the name "James," but 
it was another name entirely. I signed my own name 
plainly, and the question read, "Did you read what I 
sent you ?" It can thus be seen that the test given me 
had no bearing. Mr. J — was a young man and wore 
no whiskers. I know of no "James" . answering her 

And now to explain the method she used in reading 
the questions. This is an old and well-known trick 
in a new dress. The trick of which this performance 
is a variation, is known to the profession as "Wash- 
ington Irving Bishop's Sealed Letter Reading." I 
have performed it many times and I recognized it at 
once. In the first place I noticed that she used a lady's 
kid glove when being blindfolded. This is precisely 
the method of blindfolding given in the instructions 
for the above-mentioned trick. The kid is a little stiff ; 
and it is an easy matter for the blindfolded person to 
look down upon the table from under the bandage. 


There is thus a strip of the table top some six inches 
wide easily in the view of the medium. It is also easy 
to shift a bandage of this style slightly upward by a 
motion of raising the eyebrows. 

A close observer would have noticed that the medium 
first unfolded a couple of papers, smoothed them out 
and laid them on the table writing side up; that these 
lay between the pile of unread papers and herself; 
that she next took another paper and pressed it to her 
forehead, and at the same time placed her right elbow 
on the table and apparently rested her head in her right 
hand, which at the same time pressed the paper against 
her forehead ; that when she did this she leaned for- 
ward on her hand and thus the part of the table on 
which lay the opened papers came directly in range of 
her concealed eyes. When she gave the first test, she 
was reading the question on the table under her eyes, 
and was not getting it from the paper against her fore- 

As soon as she finished the first test she laid the 
paper in her hand on top of the opened ones, writing 
side up; and opening and placing another one against 
her head, she gave the second test. Meanwhile she 
again leaned her head in her hand so that she could 
read the writing on the paper she had just laid down. 
She was thus all the time one billet behind in her 
reading, and was really reading the one under her 
eyes, while pretending to draw inspiration from the 
one pressed against her forehead. A close observer 
would have noticed that she invariably held the side of 
the paper on which the writing was, next to her head. 
The spectators thus never could see the writing and 
thereby discover the deception. She could tell the 


writing side of the papers by feeling, as this side was 
folded inward in all cases. 

A few evenings after this seance, I attended her 
Sunday night meeting. The hall was packed, and even 
standing room taken. The tests given were of the 
same character as those given at her seance ; and as 
she gave them, they met quick responses from persons 
over the hall. The efifect was really fine, and I was 
surprised that such an old and well-known trick could 
affect so many persons so seriously. When writing 
my question, I tore the slip of paper given me into 
halves, and wrote on half of it. I later saw the medium 
with half a slip in her hand while giving another test. 
When she laid down this half slip and took up another, 
she gave me my test. I thus verified what I already 
knew in regard to the manner in which she read the 

On both occasions, after the meetings, when guests 
were departing, I noticed the manager gather up the 
questions and place them carefully in his pocket. I 
knew that this was in order that next day they might 
be studied and catalogued. 

I might mention that at the Sunday night meeting 
some tests were given before the medium began her 
regular tests. She merely said that certain spirits came 
to her, gave their names and other details, and said 
that they wished to communicate with some one in the 
room. The medium asked for whom each test was ; 
and as certain spectators recognized each test, the 
effect was very fine on the audience. In one case, after 
a gentleman had identified one of these tests as for 

him, the medium asked, "Is your name Mr. ?" The 

spectator replied that it was. "Correct," said the me- 
dium, "I see that name written right over your head." 


These tests were in the nature of "Blue Book" tests, 
but I do not think this medium has a book of Cmaha. 
I think that she got her information from questions 
asked her on sHps of paper at the previous meetings, 
seances, and pri^^ate readings ; also from gossiping 
with different persons who called during the daytime 
for private readings. I understood that she frequently 
visited with such persons after giving them a reading, 
and that she was accounted a very friendly and so- 
ciable person. It is very easy to gain information by 
keeping all written questions and studying them after 
the meetings. 

That this method is generally used I know from the 
fact that some time ago a certain medium came to grief 
in Omaha. The police confiscated his paraphernalia, 
in which was found a "Blue Book" of Omaha. The 
public was invited to call and see this book ; and be- 
lievers could go and read their own questions, written 
in this book, with their own names signed to them. 
Yet, notwithstanding all this, the persons of that faith 
are ready to be duped again, so great in the ordinary 
man is the love of the occult and the desire for positive 
proof of individual immortality. 


I know a lady in a country place who recently re- 
ceived a letter which read as follows: 

"Mrs. S. E. J— , 
C— , Neb. 
Dear Madam: At one of our seances recently the 
spirit of a young lady made her appearance and gave 
her name as Mary E. J — . She claims to be your 


daughter and strongly expressed a desire to communi- 
cate with you. If I can be of any service to you, you 
may command me. 

I remain faithfully yours, ." 

This letter was signed by a professional medium at 
that time located in Lincoln, Neb., and was written on 
a letter-head which contained the information that the 
writer was a famous trance medium, etc., etc. 

The lady, on receiving this, was greatly impressed 
by such a letter from an utter stranger in a city some 
distance from her. There was no reason why she 
should be known to this medium in any way, as she 
had never heard of him. She had a daughter, Mary, 
who had died of typhoid just before graduating from 
a certain school ; and her heart had been nearly broken 
over the loss. She had passed a few weary years 
grieving over her dear one; and after receiving this 
letter, her mind continually dwelt on its strange con- 
tents. Finally she could stand the strain no longer; 
so she determined to make a visit to the city, and learn 
what this mysterious person could reveal to her. 

Accordingly she made the journey and in due time 
arrived at the residence of the medium. While wait- 
ing her turn at the home of the medium, she fell into 
conversation with another lady from another place 
who was waiting for the same reason ; and who had 
received a letter similar to the one described above. 

When her turn came she was invited into a private 
room of the medium, where she was informed that 
he charged one dollar for his time ; that, however, he 
was at the lady's service ; and while he made no prom- 
ises, he would do the best he could for her. 

She paid the medium his fee, and he brought out a 


box of envelopes. He first handed the lady a sheet of 
paper, and directed her to write a letter which he dic- 
tated. It read something like this : 

"Dear Mary: Tell me if you are happy over there. 
Can you see me and your brothers, and are there 
wonderful sights to see in the realms where you are? 
Did you suffer much when you passed out? 

Your mother, S. E. J—." 

The medium now took an envelope from the box of 
stationery, and opening it up, requested the lady to 
breathe in it so as to magnetize it. This she did, and 
incidentally noticed that it was empty. The medium 
now requested her to place her letter in this envelope, 
which she did. He immediately sealed it before her 
eyes without removing it from her sight for one in- 
stant ; and taking one end of it in the tips of the fingers 
of his right hand, he requested the lady to hold the 
opposite end in her fingers so as to "establish connec- 
tion, and the proper conditions." 

The sat in this manner for probably five minutes 
during which time the medium discoursed on the truths 
of spiritual science. At the end of this time the 
medium said, "Let us see if we have anything." Tak- 
ing the envelope in his left hand, he tore open its end 
with his right hand, and removed the letter the lady 
had placed in the envelope, handing the same directly 
to her. She immediately unfolded it and to her sur- 
prise found that her writing had utterly disappeared, 
and in its place was the following letter: 

"Dear mother : I am happy, oh, so happy, over here ! 
I can see you and my brothers at any time, and I visit 
you every day ; but you do not know it. You can not 


tell at what moment I am looking at you all with my 
invisible eyes and listening to your voices. I will be 
waiting to meet you when you come over, and you will 
be so happy to see the wonderful sights there are here. 
My suffering ceased the moment I began to die, and I 
knew nothing but the greatest joy. 

Yours with love forever, Mary E. J — ." 

The lady said she never could express the joy she 
felt on reading this communication from her beloved 
daughter, and that to her dying day she would treasure 
this missive. The medium immediately handed her 
the envelope in which it had been sealed, and told her 
she could keep all in memory of her daughter, which 
she did. 

She remarked that the writing did not seem quite 
natural to her, and the medium explained that his 
"guide" did the writing, while her daughter merely 
dictated the communication. The lady never had been 
a spiritualist but now is certainly greatly impressed 
with this religion of wonders. 

I will now explain the method used by the medium 
in this performance. He uses a box of envelopes of 
the ordinary business size or a trifle smaller. He takes 
one envelope and with a pair of scissors cuts a small 
margin off the ends and bottom of it. He now dis- 
cards the back side of the envelope, and uses only the 
front side with its flap which is attached to it. This 
half of an envelope will now slip inside of another 
envelope, and the two flaps will fit each other very ac- 
curately. By moistening the flap of the complete en- 
velope it can be sealed to the flap of the ''dummy." 
This the medium does so neatly that none but the 
sharpest eye could detect that the envelope has a 


double front and that the flap really consists of two 
flaps stuck together neatly. Before fastening the two 
flaps together the message is prepared and placed in 
the compartment between the two fronts. 

After all is prepared, the envelope looks like an 
ordinary one; and if it be taken from a box of en- 
velopes, there is nothing to give an idea of prepara- 
tion. The medium always sits in such manner that 
the subject is between him and the light, as otherwise 
the subject might see the paper in the concealed com- 
partment of this prepared envelope. 

The medium now gives the sitter a sheet of paper 
on which to write the letter he dictates. This sheet of 
paper is an exact duplicate of the sheet in the prepared 
envelope, and if the subject were a close observer he 
would notice that this sheet had been previously folded. 
The object of this is that the subject may fold it up 
at the same creases, so that when it is folded it will 
be the same in appearance as the duplicate. When 
the medium asks the subject to breathe in the envelope 
and magnetize it, this is for the purpose of calling 
to the sitter's attention the fact that the envelope is 
empty, and at the same time not use words to do so. 
Should the medium make the statement that the en- 
velope is empty, this statement would suggest trickery, 
and might cause an investigation that would reveal 
the secret. If, however, in breathing in the envelope, 
it be held so that the subject can see the entire interior 
of the envelope, it will be remembered afterwards and 
cited as evidence of the impossibility of trickery of 
any kind. 

When the lady places the letter in the envelope the 
medium is holding it open. He immediately seals it 
himself and taking it in the tips of the fingers of his 


right hand requests the sitter to hold the other end of 
the envelope. When the medium is ready to produce 
the message, he tears the end of the envelope off 
himself; and holding the envelope in his left hand, 
he reaches in the front compartment with the fingers 
of his right hand, bringing out the message which he 
hands directly to the sitter, with the request that it be 
examined for a communication. The moment the sitter 
sees the words, the excitement of reading is so great 
that it is exceedingly easy for the medium, with the 
left hand which contains the envelope to slip into his 
left pocket the envelope just used and take therefrom 
the duplicate. His left side is away from the sitter; 
and he has ample time to make the exchange and 
bring out a genuine envelope with the end torn off, 
which, now as the sitter finishes reading the message, 
he takes in his right hand and presents to the subject. 
After the performance, it is most usual for the sit- 
ters to forget that the medium dictated the letters 
which they have written ; and they will almost invar- 
iably tell one that they wrote a letter themselves and 
received one in reply to their own questions. This is 
a most effective trick, and is the entire stock in trade 
of this medium. Of course he has a means of getting 
information in the little towns about certain persons, 
and to these he sends his circular letters. This can be 
managed in many ways. The medium can visit the 
different towns and get information from the files of 
local papers, graveyards, etc. Or he can have a man 
who is canvassing for something, to secretly send in 
the information with the names ; and he can pay such 
person part of the proceeds for his work. Such a 
person frequently learns much about certain citizens, 


by adroit questions addressed to other citizens, in the 
course of his stay in the towns. 

When the medium sends out a circular letter, he 
immediately prepares an envelope with a suitable mes- 
sage and labels it on a separate slip of paper. He also 
writes on this slip a note which reminds him of what 
the letter must consist, which he is to dictate to this 
subject when she arrives. 

All persons do not respond to these circulars ; but a 
goodly number do respond, and when one arrives, she 
usually introduces herself or else presents to the me- 
dium the letter w^hich he wrote to her. As soon as 
a subject introduces herself and states her business, 
the medium retires to another room to get his box 
of stationery and of course selects the properly pre- 
pared envelope and places it in the box where he can 
easily choose it. He also reads his notes and is now 
prepared to dictate the letter for the subject to write. 

I have known other mediums to use this same trick, 
but not in so effective a manner as this medium uses it. 


A first-class medium is not only expert in the per- 
formance of certain particular tricks, but is also very 
resourceful when occasion demands it, and is particu- 
larly expert in the use of language. I can not better 
illustrate this than by giving a short account of a 
private reading which a certain medium of consider- 
able renown gave to a gentleman in Omaha some five 
years ago. 

The medium was traveling under the name Dr. Lee 
H — . He was really very expert, and simply mystified 
•nil with whom he came in contact. His tricks, from 


what I can learn of them from descriptions given to 
me by observers, were surely very superior. 

My informant, an advertising agent for a daily 
paper, is a mutual friend of the medium and myself, 
v/ell versed in trickery and mediumistic work, and the 
medium kept no secrets from him. This friend of 
mine was an eye-witness to the scene I am about to 
describe, and I am indebted to him for the details of 
the experiment, for he happened to visit the medium 
when a gentleman called for a reading. 

The room was a very large one with a large bedstead 
standing across one corner, and placed with its head 
next to the corner. The medium beckoned to my 
friend to step behind the head of this bed, which he 
did ; and from this point he saw all the details of some 
of the finest mediumistic work that is ever performed 
off-hand. The sitter could have seen my friend, had 
he observed closely, but he failed to do so. 

The medium was a very large and powerful man, 
and wore no beard. I may incidentally remark that, 
in looking up his history, I am informed that at one 
time he had been a pugilist. After this he became a 
minister of the Gospel, finally taking up the profession 
of a spirit medium, as this was more lucrative for one 
of his talents and personal appearance. 

The gentleman stated to the medium that he had 
read his advertisement, and that he desired to consult 
him. The medium requested the gentleman to write 
down the questions he desired answered, also to write 
on a slip of paper his own name and the name of some 
spirit with whom he desired to communicate, and to 
fold and retain the writing himself. 

The sitter refused to do this. He said, "You ad- 
vertise that you will tell callers their own names, and 


that you will answer their questions without them 
asking the same. Now I am an unbehever; and if 
you can do these things, do so, and I will pay you and 
have a reading. I do not purpose to write anything." 
He in fact showed that he had considerable intelligence 
and that he did not intend to assist in any sleight-of- 
hand trick and be duped. 

The medium was a very pompous old fellow ; he 
stood very erect and dignified, and talked very gruffly 
and rapidly. He wore a smoking jacket; and I may 
incidentally mention that it had two large outside 
pockets near the bottom, and two large inside pockets, 
one on each side with large vertical openings ; and with 
a stiff material around the openings that held them 
slightly open. Of course, these details could not be 
seen by the sitter, but my friend had ample opportunity 
to discover this fact at various times. 

The medium when talking, continually ejaculated a 
kind of noise as if he was slightly clearing his throat ; 
but it was also in the nature of a growl. This noise 
is hard to describe on paper; but from the imitation 
which I have heard my friend give of it, I would say 
that it is such as I have frequently heard large gruff 
old fellows use when they gaze down at one from over 
their glasses and give the impression that they are 
greatly condescending when conversing with one. The 
medium kept interspersing his rapid remarks on spirit- 
ualism with these growls. He kept tapping the sitter 
on the breast with the extended fingers of his right 
hand as if emphasizing his remarks. At the same time 
he held the sitter's right hand with his other hand, and 
gazed very intently into his eyes. The medium was 
so strong that he could easily swing the sitter around 
into almost any position he desired ; and while lectur- 


ing him, the medium kept emphasizing his remarks 
with his right fingers in a manner entirely too vigor- 
ous for the bodily comfort of the sitter. 

The medium appeared to be very angry that the 
sitter should have the effrontery to call on him for a 
reading, and at the same time insult him by a suspicion 
of his honesty in a matter which the medium held so 
sacred. The medium acted as if he were about to 
order the gentleman from his rooms; but continued 
to hold him by the hand, while he kept a stream of 
excited conversation flowing. He kept tapping the 
gentleman on the breast, and emphasizing his remarks, 
while he gazed intently into the sitter's eyes and backed 
him around the room. He would, occasionally, while 
tapping, gesticulate wildly; and in all these ways, he 
continued to distract the sitter's attention and to make 
him wish he were in more congenial surroundings. At 
the proper moment my friend saw the medium deftly 
slip from the breast pocket of the sitter a letter which 
he had spied. He brought it instantly into his palm, 
which was a large one, in the manner a magician does 
when palming a card. He turned his right side from 
the sitter and with his right hand slipped the letter into 
his own lower pocket on that side. He never took his 
eyes from the sitter's during all this; and when he 
ceased tapping, the sitter seemed evidently relieved. 

The medium then said that he would give the gentle- 
man something that would convince him; and he 
brought from a table a dozen or more slates all alike, 
and laid them on the bed. He requested the sitter to 
select a clean slate from among these, which was done. 
The medium then took the selected slate ; and turning, 
he placed it in a chandelier a few feet distant and left 
it there for the spirits to write on, which they did in 


a few moments. Meanwhile the medium entertained 
the sitter properly. 

What the medium really did when he turned with 
the slate, was quickly to slip it into his left inside 
breast pocket, which stood slightly open, and instantly 
to draw from the other pocket a duplicate slate on 
which was a message already prepared. He placed 
this slate containing the message in the chandelier in 
such a manner that the sitter could not see the writing. 

In a few moments the medium took down the slate 
with the message, and handed it to the sitter. Just at 
this time the medium seemed to hear some one at his 
door, which his servant failed to answer ; and excusing 
himself for a moment, he left the room, and could be 
heard outside storming at the servant for his neglect 
of duty. Meanwhile the sitter examined the slates and 
read the message, as he had no desire to attempt to 
escape through the outside hallway wherein was the 
raging medium. During this time the medium of 
course read the stolen letter. 

He soon returned, and now came some of the finest 
work of all. His task was to replace the stolen letter 
in the gentleman's pocket unobserved. He finally suc- 
ceeded by following his original tactics, at the same 
time discussing the message the gentleman had re- 
ceived on the slate. He kept tapping the sitter on the 
breast, while with his left hand he again grasped the 
sitter's hand, and continued wildly to discourse and 
gesticulate. He kept backing the gentleman around 
the room, and if he did not partially frighten him, at 
least made him feel rather uncomfortable and long for 
a more congenial clime. The sitter wore a pair of 
glasses with a cord attached to the pocket wherein the 
medium desired to replace the letter. This occasioned 


considerable difficulty, as the letter caught on the cord 
when the medium attempted to slip it from his palm 
into the sitter's pocket. 

For a time, the medium gave up. He slipped the 
letter into the lower pocket of the sitter, and was evi- 
dently going to give the sitter the remainder of the test, 
but seemed to reconsider his determination. He now 
renewed his efforts and finally withdrew the letter 
from the lower pocket of the sitter and eventually suc- 
ceeded in replacing it in the original pocket. This was 
very difficult, as he did not dare to take his eyes from 
the eyes of the sitter during the entire experiment. 

It seems incredible that the medium could have taken 
the letter from the breast pocket of his visitor and re- 
place it unnoticed, but professional pickpockets can do 
even more extraordinary things, and the medium was 
well versed in tricks of sleight-of-hand. The main 
feature of the performance consisted in overawing the 
skeptical sitter to such an extent that he had not suf- 
ficient power of concentration left to observe either the 
filching of the letter or its replacement. My friend, 
however, from his hiding-place, could calmly observe 
the performance, and he saw how in spite of difficulties 
the medium finally succeeded. 

The medium's manner now grew more mild. His 
excitement seemed to disappear and he was master 
of the situation. He said that although the sitter came 
to him an unbeliever, and although he refused to write 
and thus help to establish the proper conditions which 
were required for the sake of harmony, etc., that he 
really believed the sitter was an honest man. He ac- 
cordingly would suspend his rules, and he would make 
a great effort and give the gentleman a test. He said, 
"I have decided that / will tell you your name." The 


medium then allowed his person violently to convulse 
while he conversed with the spirits of the empty air 
and questioned them. He had great difficulty in hear- 
ing their voices, but finally letter by letter spelled out 
the gentleman's name for him, which was, "John A. 

This startled the sitter greatly and the medium then 
said, "You are a great skeptic, but I will convince you 
yet. I will tell you where you live." Then repeating 
his process of conversing with the shades of the de- 
parted, he got the street number of the gentleman's 
home, which was Twenty-three hundred and some- 
thing North Twenty-fourth Street, Omaha, Neb. 

This put the sitter completely at the mercy of this 
man of mystery. The medium now said : 'T see mines 
and mining. You are having some trouble there. But 
it is not about mines ; yet there are mines there, for I 
see them. Yes, you are in some serious trouble, and I 
keep seeing mines, mines, mines everywhere. I see 
this trouble, but it is not about mines." Then finally 
he said, "1 get the name of Deadwood. Your trouble 
is at Deadwood." The sitter acknowledged this to be 
the case. 

Now the facts were that the sitter had just received 
this letter from an attorney in Deadwood, and it was 
about a serious personal matter. The medium had of 
course gained all his information from this letter. The 
sitter had evidently just received the letter and placed 
it in his breast pocket. While it was worrying him, 
he had called on the medium to consult him about the 
matter uppermost in his mind. 

Well, this performance converted the sitter thor- 
oughly. He paid the medium two dollars for the sit- 
ting. He also paid the medium twenty dollars more, 


as remuneration for his services wherein the medium 
agreed to exert his spiritual influence in behalf of the 
sitter in the before-mentioned trouble. 

My friend thinks that the gentleman remains a be- 
liever until this day, although he is not personally ac- 
quainted with him. 

The influence of a medium over a subject is very 
great when once the subject has been convinced. I 
know the case of a quite fleshy gentleman who con- 
sulted Dr. Schlessinger, (a medium described in a 
later chapter) in regard to reducing his flesh. 

Dr. Schlessinger was really one of the most expert 
mediums I have ever met or of whom I have ever 
heard. This gentleman was thoroughly converted by 
the doctor. He consulted him in regard to what treat- 
ment he should take for failing health, induced by ex- 
cessive flesh and other troubles. He was directed to 
drink no water or other liquid for thirty days. He was 
allowed to eat fruit, but was to use only a scanty diet 
of any kind. This gentleman actually followed these 
instructions. He reduced his flesh some, but I rather 
think he was weakened somewhat by such heroic treat- 
ment. He is a worthy gentleman, a respected citizen, 
and a man of some influence. He told me personally 
that when his thirst became unbearable he used a 
little fruit, and was thus able to endure his thirst. 

I know another gentleman, who while I write this, 
is being treated by a fraudulent medium in this city 
for granulated eye-lids. He has tried many physicians 
with no success, so perhaps faith will do for him what 
medicine has failed to do. However, I know positively 
that this medium is fraudulent. 



Sometimes expert professional mediums originate 
some good trick and successfully guard its secret from 
the public for years. As an instance of this I will de- 
scribe one that was originated by a first-class medium 
some years ago. This medium had many superior 
tricks at his command, but unfortunately he left the 
city too suddenly for my friend, the advertising agent, 
to get a good description of most of them. The me- 
dium had greatly bewildered the public ; but about this 
time a brother in the profession succeeded in getting 
twelve hundred dollars from a confiding person, and 
as this was about to be discovered he took his depar- 
ture. This made such a stir that the medium first re- 
ferred to also left the city. 

This second medium effected this financial coup de 
maitre in the following manner. A lady was in some 
sort of financial difficulty, — a law-suit over an estate 
or something of the kind. She had this money and 
desired the medium's spiritual aid. He consulted the 
spirits and did as they directed which was as follows : 
The money was to be sealed up in an envelope in a 
certain manner, and the lady was to conceal this en- 
velope in a safe place unopened for a period of thirty 
days, during which time the charm was to work and 
the lady to win her suit. Of course, the medium ex- 
changed envelopes for the lady, and she concealed one 
containing some pieces of paper. During the thirty 
days which the medium intended to remain in Omaha, 
the lady happened to grow short of finances, and went 
to the medium to borrow enough to pay her house 
rent. This medium was a man of considerable intelli- 
gence, but he had poor judgment. He refused the 


lady this loan, claiming to be short of funds himself. 
As a result, the lady decided to open the envelope, un- 
known to the medium, and remove the amount needed. 
The consequence was that the medium hurriedly left 

The trick which the first medium originated I will 
now describe. He called it 'The Mystic Oracle of the 
Swinging Pendulums, or Mind over Matter." Briefly, 
it consisted in the medium apparently causing any 
pendulum, which might be selected from a number 
hanging on a frame or in a number of bottles, to 
vibrate or swing in response to his will. There v/as 
absolutely no mechanical or electrical connection to 
any of the pendulums whatever. Most of these pen- 
dulums consisted of a bullet suspended by a piece of 
hair wire. On a few of them glass marbles of various 
sizes were used instead of bullets. 

When the pendulums were suspended inside of bot- 
tles, the bottles were corked shut and the pendulums 
were suspended from the center of the corks. The 
bottles used were of different sizes and shapes, and the 
pendulums were of various lengths, and were painted 
various colors. In one bottle was a cross from which 
hung three pendulums in the same bottle. These bot- 
tles were standing upon a center table. 

In the center of the top of this small table was fixed 
an upright brass rod about two feet high. There was 
a cup on its top which contained one bottle. This rod 
was made steady by guy wires running from its top 
to the four corners of the table. There was a cross 
rod near the top of this vertical rod which was prob- 
ably eighteen inches long. From it were suspended 
various pendulums some of which hung inside of wine 
glasses, or goblets, at their lower ends. Others merely 


had glasses stationed on either side of them so that the 
pendukims would ring them when swinging. He also 
had two tripods which were erected from three brass 
rods and from the center of v/hich hung a pendulum 
inside a glass goblet. These tripods were to stand on 
the same table with the cross and bottles. All rods 
were plated and neatly finished. 

The trick consisted in the medium, by the mere 
power of his will, causing any pendulum to swing and 
strike the sides of the bottle or glass within which it 
hung, and answer questions by its taps. 

When the company called upon him, he brought the 
tripods and bottles from a corner of the room, and 
placed them on this center table. This table was an 
ordinary light center table with a small cover. There 
were many pendulums thus in view of the spectators 
who stood around the table. The medium seated him- 
self at the table and placed his hands lightly upon it, 
as spiritualists do when summoning the departed. 

The medium then requested any one to select the 
pendulum he desired to have answer his quesions. 
When this was done the medium gazed intently at it, 
and lo, it slowly began to move ! It gained in ampli- 
tude at each swing until it struck the sides of the 
bottle or goblet within which it hung, giving the re- 
quired number of raps on the glass. 

After this pendulum answered the questions asked, 
another pendulum could be selected by any spectator. 
This one to the amazement of all would slowly begin 
to swing and repeat all the maneuvers of the first one, 
while the first one would gradually cease swinging. 
This could be tried any number of times and was al- 
ways successful no matter which pendulum was se- 


My friend assured me that of all the tricks he had 
ever witnessed, this one mystified him most; and, in 
fact, he could discover no clue to the secret of the trick. 
The room was bare of furniture or carpet, and was 
well lighted. The center table could be moved about, 
thoroughly inspected, and the apparatus thoroughly 
examined for concealed wires, threads, etc. The bot- 
tles could be removed and inspected at any time, and 
even the corks taken out and the pendulums examined ; 
yet all absolutely obeyed the medium's will. 

This trick, I believe, is unknown to the dealers in 
secrets for the use of mediums, and to the best of my 
knowledge has never become known. Accordingly, 
I will give the secret to the readers of this book, so that 
any one with just a little practice can operate the trick. 
I have constructed the apparatus and worked it very 
successfully, so that I am certain about the matter. 

The idea is very simple, being merely a little scien- 
tific principle practically applied. Each pendulum is 
of a length different from all of the others. As a re- 
sult each one swings in a different time period. We 
will illustrate this by saying that one swings one time 
per second, another two times per second, etc. It is 
now evident that if an impulse be given to the table 
supporting the apparatus, all of the pendulums will 
make a slight vibration, but each one will return at a 
different time. When any pendulum returns it imme- 
diately starts in the reverse direction. Now if any 
particular one receive a second impulse at the par- 
ticular instant of returning, its second swing will be 
slightly increased in amplitude. On its return if it 
again receive another impulse at the proper instant, it 
will again move a trifle farther in its swing. This can 
be repeated until the pendulum will be swinging with 


a vibration of sufficient amplitude to strike the glass. 
And now let us take one pendulum swinging say ten 
times per minute. It must receive just exactly ten 
impulses per minute in order to increase the amplitude 
of its swing. It must also receive these impulses at 
the proper instant. If more than ten impulses are 
given, or if they are given in an irregular manner, the 
pendulum will finally stop its motion. It is evident, 
then, that all the other pendulums vibrating in differ- 
ent intervals such as twenty, twenty-five, etc., times 
per minute, will not be affected by these impulses in a 
proper manner to cause their vibration to increase. 
In fact, the impulses given, being out of tune, or 
rather out of time, with their motions, will tend to 
bring them to rest. They will dance about, and move 
a little in an indefinite manner, while the one selected 
will appear to have life and intelligence ; and it will 
move in a definite manner, as if accomplishing an 
object or purpose, which in fact it is doing. 

The impulses are given by a slight pressure or vibra- 
tion applied to the table by the medium's hands. He 
merely watches the pendulum selected and times his 
impulses with that one's motions. The impulses are 
very slight and the operator must not become impa- 
tient, but must be content to take his time, for if he 
uses too much force it can be seen by the spectators. 
With a proper table and a proper apparatus, the merest 
pressure is sufficient, if repeated at the proper times, 
to gradually start any pendulum swinging. This pres- 
sure must be so slight as not to be observed, and a 
cover on the table helps to conceal the slight move- 
ments of the hands. The hands should be placed under 
the cover so as to come into contact with the wood 
of the table and establish "proper conditions," the 


cover thus hiding the movements of the hands. Any 
one trying this with his hands under the cover and in 
a careful manner, will be surprised at its effect on 
those who witness it. 

All of the pendulums that are not in tune with the 
medium's impulses will move about slightly in an er- 
ratic manner, but the selected one will start right out 
and exhibit intelligence and design in its movements, 
from the moment it is selected. It will be found that 
all of the pendulums are moving a little all the time ; 
as the vibrations of the building, the movements of the 
persons in the room, and the jar of setting up the 
apparatus, etc., prevents their coming to absolute rest. 
Accordingly, when a pendulum is selected, it is already 
moving somewhat, although possibly in the wrong 
direction. The operator merely times his impulses 
with its movements, and it soon changes its direction 
to the proper one, and its movements assume definite 
form.* I will state that the longer pendulums require 
the heavier weights, and bottles of larger diameter. 

Another medium had a model of a lady's hand. The 
room was bare of furniture excepting chairs. The 
spectators were seated in a circle, and four of them 
held a large swinging glass plate by four ribbons at- 
tached to its corners. They held this plate so that 
when it hung down between them, it really formed a 
level table some six inches above the floor; and it was 
supported merely by the aforesaid ribbons in the sit- 
ter's hands. On this glass table the hand was placed. 
This hand was evenly balanced so that a slight pres- 

* An excellent article on the principle which this trick illus- 
trates is entitled "The Mechanism of Sympathy," and can be 
found in The Open Court for February, 1897. 


sure applied on its fingers would cause it to tilt for- 
ward and tap the plate. Now if the sitters sat quietly 
and asked this hand any questions whatever, it would 
reply correctly by tapping on the plate. 

The medium did not have to ask the questions ; 
neither did the questions have to be timed to suit any 
internal mechanism within the hand. No particular line 
of "patter" had to be used. One could simply ask any 
question he might choose and the hand would answer 
him. There was absolutely no outside connection to 
the hand in any manner, and no machinery within the 
hand. All could be thoroughly examined ; and the 
usual thread, that so many performers use, was im- 
possible in this case, owing to the conditions. 

The secret is an old one. Many readers of this book 
will remember the "Light and Heavy Chest" of the 
old-time conjurors. The performer could lift it from 
the stage, but no committee of the spectators was 
strong enough to raise it. It will be remembered by 
those who know this trick, that the chest contained soft 
iron ; that under the floor where it sat was a powerful 
electro-magnet, through which the performer's assist- 
ant turned a current of electricity, causing the mag- 
netic force to be exerted just as the committee at- 
tempted to lift the chest. They were thus unable to 
move it, so strong was the magnetic force. The prin- 
ciple used in operating this hand was the same. In the 
fingers was soft iron. Under the floor was a powerful 
electro-magnet. The medium's assistant, from an ad- 
joining room listened to the questions through a con- 
cealed tube ; and at the proper time he pressed a but- 
ton, sending into the magnet the current which was 
strong enough to draw down the fingers and cause the 
hand to rap. 



An intelligent and influential gentleman once told 
me of a most wonderful experience that he had in his 
home town. A lady medium came to the town and be- 
gan giving the most wonderful tests. It created much 
talk and great excitement in the town. He finally de- 
cided to call on this lady. She was a stranger in the 
city, had just arrived, and no one had ever seen her 
before. When persons called on her, she asked no 
questions whatever, but at once gave them the most 
marvelous exhibition of her unheard-of powers. 

This gentleman accordingly called on her, and he 
was certain that she could not have known him in any 
way. As soon as the sitting began, this lady told the 
gentleman his name, the number of persons in his 
family that were living, also the number that were 
dead. She gave him the names of all of them, de- 
scribed his home to him, and told him many of the 
principal events of his life without any questions being 
asked. She then summoned the spirits of his dead and 
delivered their messages to him. 

This gentleman, although very intelligent, was so 
greatly impressed that he thought to test her powers 
further. He accordingly sent other members of his 
family to her, and they met with the same experience. 
The medium immediately told each of them his name 
and repeated the first performance. This gentleman 
then had other friends call on the medium, but the 
result was always the same. The people were very 
greatly mystified, and the medium's apartments were 
continually crowded during her short stay. In a few 
days she left, going to another city. 

The principle she used I will explain a little further 


on. Another medium doing this same work traveled 
for years in small towns, of from two to three thou- 
sand population. The method she pursued was this: 
She would, on entering town, quietly learn the name 
of some one of the oldest citizens of the place. She 
would select one that had always attended all public 
places and who was thoroughly familiar with every 

She would then approach this person, explain her 
business to him and close a contract by which he 
should have half of the proceeds of the readings ; and 
in return for the same he was to furnish the necessary 
information, and to guard the secret well. 

She always made him sign a written contract which 
bound him to secrecy, and which would afterwards 
effectually prevent him from making public his share 
in the transaction ; as his fellow-townsmen would see, 
if this contract were made public, that he had helped 
to fleece them. 

The medium then engaged suitable rooms, and her 
assistant was each day concealed at an early hour in 
the rear part of the apartments. A small hole was 
made in the wall and concealed by some draperies, 
through which the assistant could watch and identify 
those calling for readings. The medium usually ex- 
cused herself a moment to get a drink of water or to 
attend to some trifling duty before giving her reading, 
leaving the caller waiting for a few moments. During 
this time she would inform herself fully of the history 
of the caller. 

She sometimes used a couch ; and when doing so, she 
lay on it while in her trances, repeating to the sitter 
the proper subject matter to place such sitter com- 
pletely at her mercy. 


When using this couch she secretly adjusted a small 
rubber tube to her ear next to the wall. This tube 
came through the wall, at a small hole near the floor 
in the base-board ; and it had at its farther end, in the 
other room, a mouthpiece into which her confederate 
whispered the information. When she received such 
information, she of course elaborated on it, and pro- 
duced it in the labored manner common to mediums, 
with much additonal matter which she could surmise 
and deduce from the sitter's own conversation. 

Her readings were so marvelous and successful that 
she simply coined money in each town, carrying away 
several hundred dollars in a few days. Her assistant 
was so well satisfied with this that he gladly kept her 


* * * 

The method pursued by the medium first referred 
to was a variation of the last trick. She rented a store 
building with no partitions in it. She stretched cur- 
tains, which made very good partitions, so that the 
rear of the building was hidden from callers, it being 
in darkness. However, as the front of the building 
was lighted from the windows, the confederate behind 
the curtain could see through the curtain and see the 
subject plainly. 

The medium, took with her a second assistant who 
was a telegraph operator. When giving a reading she 
sat near the cross curtain and allowed her foot to ex- 
tend from under her skirts to a position under the 
curtain. This could not be noted by the subject; but 
the traveling confederate behind the curtain was thus 
enabled to telegraph on her foot all the information, 
using the regular "Morse code," while the local con- 
federate wrote it down. She was able to give stran- 


gers their names and the most marvelous Information 
in the most startling manner. She worked many towns 
in western Nebraska most successfully. 

Another medium used a similar method in large 
cities; but being unable to have a local confederate 
acquainted with those who might call, he adopted 
the plan of remaining behind a heavy curtain himself, 
while a confederate sat outside, apparently being a 
caller waiting his turn for a reading. This confederate 
would fall into conversation with other callers who 
were waiting, and would introduce himself in a man- 
ner that would call for a like confidence from the 

This confederate would then graciously yield his 
turn to the subject, as he was in no hurry. The sub- 
ject would then be taken behind the curtain to the 
medium, who retired behind a second curtain for a 
moment before giving the reading. This second cur- 
tain ran lengthwise with the room and met the cross 
curtain in its center. When the medium was out of 
sight of the sitter, the confederate passed the informa- 
tion through a slit in the front curtain to the medium 
in the second rear apartment. The medium had a city 
directory handy, and thus he could startle the stranger 
by giving his name, and by giving an address where 
the sitter then lived, or had previously lived. 

Sometimes mediums get information from the hat or 
coat of a sitter, by having a polite porter receive him 
and relieve him of his wraps. This porter, as soon 
as the subject leaves the hall- way, immediately exam- 
ines the aforesaid articles for a name, letter, etc. The 
last two methods can not always be relied upon, but 
succeed often enough to cause much talk and comment 


on the marvelous powers of the medium ; and thus 
they bring him many a dollar. 


Not so very long ago I met a friend — a man of 
wealth, who was a firm believer in spiritualism, and 
who frequently conversed with his dead wife and 
daughter. I asked him if he could inform me whether 
or not there were any good mediums in the city, as I 
should like to consult one. 

He replied that at present there were none in Omaha 
of any well developed psychic powers ; that he was 
entirely satisfied on the subject and did not require 
any demonstrations to convince himself of the truths 
of spiritual science. He informed me that the question 
was settled beyond all dispute ; but that if I were skep- 
tical, there was said to be a medium in Council Bluffs 
who possessed most wonderful powers. 

I accordingly made other inquiries from those who 
were in a position to know ; and I learned that this 
medium, a celebrated ''Doctor of the Occult, Astrol- 
oger, Palmist and Spirit Medium," was at that time 
giving private sittings in Council Bluffs to earnest in- 
quirers only, for the small sum of two dollars. 

I was informed that his performances were of the 
most wonderful nature ; that there was no possibility 
of trickery of any kind ; that he told you whatever you 
desired to know, without your even asking him ; that, 
in addition to this, he had powers over the elements 
of nature ; and, in fact, I was led to believe that he was 
a true sorcerer of the olden days. 

I determined at once to call on this renowned per- 
sonage, and try to secure a little information from the 
unseen world. Accordingly, one Sunday afternoon 


I took the car that crossed the river, and in due time 
arrived at the apartments of this wonderful doctor. 

I was met at the door by an attendant, who accepted 
the fee and directed me to enter the rooms of this 
mysterious person quietly ; and if I found him em- 
ployed, by no means to disturb him, but merely to await 
his pleasure; that he was frequently conversing with 
unseen beings, or deep in some astrological compu- 
tation, and at such times it was not safe to disturb him. 

With a beating heart I entered the room where he 
was to be found. This room was a large one. I did 
not see him at first. What attracted my attention was 
a large map or painting on a piece of canvas which 
hung on a wall space in the room. This painting had 
a representation of the sun in its center. This could 
be discovered by the rays which radiated from it in 
all directions. Around this sun were many stars, and 
an occasional planet, among which Saturn and its 
rings were very prominently depicted. There were 
numerous pictures of animals and men, and of queer 
monsters, scattered amongst the stars. 

Beneath this picture stood a large golden oak table 
at which sat this delver into the occult, deeply en- 
grossed in a study of this painting ; while with a little 
brush he figured and calculated, in a queer sort of 
Chinese characters, which he drew on a sheet of paper. 
He also seemed to be making a strange drawing on 
the same paper. He was far too deeply engaged to 
notice my entrance, and continued at his labors for 
some time, while I stood quietly and watched him. 
Sitting on one end of this rather large table was a 
glass globe or vessel, supported by three nickeled rods, 
something like a tripod. Coming from the wall was 
a rather large nickeled tube or pipe which curved over 


above the glass vessel, and continually allowed drops 
of water to fall into the globe. From the side of this 
glass vessel there led a small nickeled pipe which evi- 
dently carried away the waste water. 

Occasionally a little blue flame would appear on the 
surface of this water, play about, and disappear. When 
this happened the body of the medium was always con- 
vulsed slightly. 

After a time he seemed to finish his calculation, and 
this seer condescended to leave the realms of the stars 
wherein dwelt the spirits that rule the universe and the 
destinies of men, and to descend to earth and for a 
time direct his gaze towards this humble mortal. He 
turned around and observed me for the first time. He 
was a large, portly, fine-looking gentleman of middle 
age, with very long black hair which gave him a 
strange appearance. He wore a pair of glasses low 
down on his nose ; and from over these he conde- 
scended to direct his gaze at, and to study me for a 
moment as a naturalist might study some specimen 
that happened temporarily to attract his notice. 

He soon informed me that the stars had told him 
something of my coming and of the question that was 
worrying me ; and he asked me if I desired to consult 
the stars as to my destiny, to have him decipher it 
from the lines of my palm, or whether I should prefer 
to converse with the dead. The last was my choice. 

Not far from a window at one side of the room there 
was a small table on which were a few articles. He 
directed me to be seated at this table, and handed me 
a slip of paper of a size of probably four by five 
inches. He directed me to write the question I desired 
answered on this paper, and when through to fold the 
paper in halves three times with the writing inside. 


I did SO while he walked to his bowl of water appar- 
ently paying no attention to me, and then returned. 

When he had returned to a position opposite me at 
the table, he reached to take my writing out of my 
hand ; seeing which I quickly bent down one corner of 
the paper and gave it to him. He directed one sharp 
glance at me as I did this, at the same time picking up 
an envelope from the table with his other hand. He 
held this envelope open flap side towards me, and 
slowly inserted my paper into it. As he did this, look- 
ing sharply at me, he remarked, "I am no sleight-of- 
hand performer. You see your question is actually in 
the envelope." This was the case ; for it was close to 
me and I could plainly see the top of it against the 
back of the envelope, the lower portions being in- 
serted ; and I could see the little corner folded down, 
as I had bent it, and I was certain he had not ex- 
changed it. In fact he took occasion to use his hands 
in such manner that I could see there was nothing con- 
cealed about them, that he "palmed" nothing, and that 
he made no exchange. I was entirely satisfied that all 
was fair, and that no exchange had been made. 

Next, he sealed the envelope, and holding it towards 
the window, called my attention to the fact that as 
the envelope was partly transparent I could see my 
paper within it and that it was actually there. This 
was really the case. He now took a match, and light- 
ing it applied the flame to this identical envelope with- 
out its leaving my sight; and proceeded to burn the 
last vestige of it and the paper within it, allowing the 
ashes to drop into a small vessel on the table. 

There was no doubt that he did not exchange en- 
velopes and that he burned it before my very eyes. 
He now took the ashes and emptied them into the bowl 


of water on the side table. A little blue flame appeared 
on the surface of the water after that for a moment, 
and then disappeared. 

He now brought from a drawer a number of slates — 
about eight or ten small slates with padded edges. 
They were the smallest size of slates, I should judge ; 
and with them he brought another slate, a trifle larger, 
probably two inches both longer and wider. He re- 
quested me to examine thoroughly or to clean them all 
to my own satisfaction, and to stack the small ones on 
the table, one on top of the other ; and when all were 
thus placed, to place the large slate on top of the stack. 

While I was doing this he called to his attendant for 
a drink of water, and incidentally stepped into the hall 
to receive it, so that his menial would not profane this 
sanctuary with his presence. 

Returning to the table he took a seat opposite me 
and placed one of my hands and one of his on top of 
the slates. In due time he took up the slates and we 
found nothing. He replaced them, and waited for a 
few moments ; then seeming dissatisfied with con- 
ditions, he took up the top slate in his left hand and 
with his right hand began writing a message for me. 
He did this like mediums do automatic writing, with 
eyes half closed ; and while writing his person was con- 
vulsed a few times. He then opened his eyes and read 
aloud what he had written, asking me if it answered 
my question. I replied that it did not, as it was en- 
tirely foreign to the subject. Then seeming dissatis- 
fied, he moistened his fingers, erased the writing, and 
replaced the top slate on the stack of slates. 

He now placed his hands on this slate again, and 
after a time examined it ; but it was still free from 
writing. He lifted up some of the other slates ; but as 


there was no writing, he scattered the slates around 
on the table and asked me to spread a large cloth over 
them which he handed to me. This I did, and under 
his direction placed my arms and hands over this. He 
walked to the bowl of water on the side table, and 
gazed into it. I watched him ; and I saw a rather 
large flame appear on the surface of the water, dance 
about, and disappear. 

He immediately informed me that he was certain 
that I now had a message. He remained at a distance 
while I examined the slates one by one. Finally, on 
one of them I found a message, neatly written and 
covering the entire slate. It read: 

"Mrs. Piper is a genuine medium. She possesses 
powers of a very unusual nature. Her tests given 
Hyslop and others are genuine. Do not be a skeptic. 
You are making a mistake, dear friend. It is all plain 
to me now, and spirit is all there is. — Will." 

Now, the question I had written was addressed to 
a very dear friend who is now dead, and read as fol- 
lows : 

"Will J — : In regard to the medium, Mrs. Piper, of 
whom we conversed on your last visit, I would ask if 
she be genuine, and if the tests she gave Professor 
Hyslop and others were genuine. Give me a test." 

This was all nicely done, and I am sure would have 
greatly impressed nearly every one. Being a per- 
former myself, I could of course follow the perform- 
ance in minute detail, and I am thus enabled to give to 
the readers of this paper a detailed account of the 
method used by the doctor. I will state that since that 
time I have very successfully operated this same test, 
minus the bowl of water and flame of fire ;- and that I 


can assure all that it is very practicable and that it is 
very deceptive. 

When the medium picked up the envelope in which 
to place my paper, there was within it a duplicate piece 
of paper folded the same, and of the same size (one 
inch and a quarter by two inches) as the one I had 
folded. He kept the face of this envelope opposite me 
so I could not see that side of it. On the face of it was 
a horizontal slit cut with a knife. This slit was about 
two inches long and was situated about half way down 
the face of the envelope. The duplicate folded paper 
was placed vertically in the envelope at its center, so 
that its center was located against the slit. This piece 
of paper was held in position by a touch of paste at a 
point opposite the slit, which caused it to adhere to 
the inside of the back of the envelope. 

When he picked up this prepared envelope with his 
left hand, he did so with the slit side or face in his 
palm next to the fingers of his left hand. This en- 
velope lay slit side down before he picked it up; so 
that I did not see the face of the envelope at all, and 
he kept that side of the envelope from me during the 
entire trick. The paper within the envelope had been 
placed far enough down so that its top part was not 
exposed to my view. The envelope thus appeared 
perfectly natural, as an ordinary one with nothing 
in it. 

He thus held the envelope in his left hand, flap open 
wide, with the back side of the envelope later to be 
sealed, facing me. Now he really inserted my paper 
in this envelope with his right hand as he took it 
from me; but in fact, he pushed it down just behind 
the hidden slip of paper within the envelope. I mean 
that he inserted it between the concealed slip and the 


face or slit side of the envelope; and as he did this 
he caused the lower end of my slip of paper to pass 
through the slit in the center of the front of the en- 
velope. The lower portion of my slip was thus out 
of the envelope on its rear side, between the front of 
the envelope and the fingers of his left hand ; although 
I could see nothing of this. He pushed it down so 
that the top still remained in view with the bent corner 
exposed, and then sealed the flap over it. 

Holding the envelope towards the window, he called 
to my notice the fact that my paper was within, and 
that I could see it plainly. I could see the shadow of 
the two papers, which appeared as one, and thus his 
statement seemed correct. Of course he did not show 
me the rear side or face of the envelope, with my 
paper protruding, which was immediately behind the 
duplicate, so that the shadow of it was also the shadow 
of the duplicate. 

This shadow also hid from my view the shadow of 
the slit. The envelope was sealed fairly. 

Now with his right hand he moved a small vessel on 
the table towards himself. Then taking the envelope 
in his right hand, slit side downward, he held it close 
to this vessel; at the same time zvith his left hand he 
took a match from his pocket and proceeded to hum 
the envelope. This move concealed the trick ; and it 
was very deceiving and cleverly done. As he took 
the envelope from his left hand with his right hand, 
he, w4th his left fingers touching the protruding por- 
tion of my slip, caused it to remain in his left hand 
and to be drawn entirely out of the slit. His eyes 
followed the envelope as his right hand took it ; which 
naturally caused my eyes to follow it, as his attention 
seemed centered on the envelope and it appeared to 


occupy the stage of action. This move was executed 
in a moment, not requiring any time worth mentioning, 
although it takes so long to describe it on paper in- 
telligibly. Now while his eyes (and of course mine) 
followed the envelope, zuithotit pause his left hand 
went into his left pocket in a natural manner to get the 
match. He, of course, left my slip in his pocket with 
his surplus matches ; and when he retired for the drink 
of water, he read my question. 

As to the slate trick, all was fair until he picked up 
the top slate, wrote an automatic message, apparently 
read it aloud to me, and then upon my informing him 
that the message did not answer my question, he 
seemed dissatisfied, apparently erased the message, and 
replaced the large slate on top of the stack of slates. 
What he really did was to pick up the large top slate, 
bottom side towards himself, and at the same time to 
carry zvith it a small slate pressed tightly against its 
under side. He held the large slate with its under side 
tilted from me, so I could not see this small slate. 
There being so many small slates in the stack, the 
temporary absence of one from the stack attracted no 

He kept this small slate next to him out of my view, 
and really wrote the message on the small slate zvhich 
was next to him, and which zvas concealed from my 
view by the larger slate. He did not read aloud what 
he had actually written but merely pretended to do so, 
repeating something entirely foreign to the subject 
instead. What he had written really answered my 
question fully. When he appeared to erase the mes- 
sage, his movements were but a pretense ; and he did 
not erase it at all. When he replaced the large slate 


on the stack of slates, he, of course, replaced the small 
one which was concealed under it, message side down. 

It must be remembered that the operator, at the be- 
ginning of the slate trick, first took up and examined 
the large slate a time or so for a message ; and finding 
none, seemed disappointed, and finally wrote the auto- 
matic message ; then on being informed that it did not 
apply to the case, he seemed dissatisfied and appeared 
to erase it. 

After the message was written and the slates re- 
placed, he examined the top slate a time or so, and even 
lifted ofif a few small slates looking for writing, but did 
not turn them over ; then seeing nothing, he scattered 
the slates around on the table, leaving their same sides 
downwards; and handing me the cover, he requested 
me to cover them and place my hands on them. 

The trick was now practically done. As the slates 
had been examined so many times and nothing found 
on them, even after the automatic zvriting, the majority 
of persons would testify that there was positively noth- 
ing on the slates when the medium left the table. The 
majority of persons would never remember that he at 
one time wrote on the large slate and erased it. The 
message being on a small slate, and these being spread 
around, few would have known that this message 
really appeared on the particular small slate that was 
originally next the top of the stack. 

Most people would have certified that they cleaned 
all of the slates themselves, that the medium never 
touched any of the small ones, and that he only laid 
his hands on top of the stack a few times. Some would 
even forget that the medium handled their writing at 
all before burning it. 

I am sure that the nickeled tube that carried the 


dripping water into the space over the glass bowl, had 
a second tube within it; through which his assistant 
from the adjoining room either blew, or sent by some 
mechanism, the chemicals (probably potassium) that 
would take fire and burn on striking the water. 

When I perform the slate trick described above, 
after writing the "automatic" message, apparently 
erasing it, and replacing the slates, I do not scatter the 
slates around on the table as this medium did. In- 
stead, I proceed as I will now describe. 

We place our palms on the stack, and after a time 
examine the large slate for a message, but find none. 
I may incidentally remark that this last examination 
unconsciously verifies in the sitter's mind the fact that 
I actually erased what I wrote "automatically." 

I now look on some of the smaller slates for a 
message, but find none. When I do this I do not turn 
these slates over and look on their under sides, but 
merely take off the top slate to see if there be a mes- 
sage on the upper surface of the one under it. I 
merely remark, "Well, there is nothing on that slate," 
indicating the second one from the top; and at the 
same time I drop the top slate (now in my hand) on 
the table beside the stack. I immediately take oflf the 
second slate and repeat this same performance, drop- 
ping it on top of the first one. I keep on with this 
performance until I have removed four or five of the 
slates, and have them stacked in a second stack beside 
the first one. Then seeming to grow discouraged, I 
remark, "I guess there is no message" ; and I replace 
the second stack on the first stack. This places the 
message slate four or five slates down in the stack ; 


as the bottom slate of the second stack, being the top 
slate of the original stack, is now the message slate. 

I next up-edge the small slates and place a rubber 
band around them placing them in the sitter's lap. I, 
of course, place what was the top of the stack down- 
wards when I do so. As the stack is on the side edges 
of the slates when I first up-edge them, I next bring 
them upon the end edges, while I put the band in place. 
It is now easy to place the stack of slates upon the sit- 
ter's lap with the top slate down and to attract no 
notice to this fact. This is because the position has 
been changed a time or so in placing the band on ; and 
I then take the stack in my hands by the edges of the 
slates, and simply place what was the top side of the 
stack in the beginning, at the bottom. 

In due time I tell the subject to make an examination 
for a message, and of course four or five slates down 
he finds a message on the upper surface of one of the 

This seems very miraculous, as the slates have been 
so repeatedly examined and nothing found. Finding 
the message on the upper surface of a middle slate, 
where but a moment before there was nothing, seems 
to be truly a marvel. The subject having cleaned and 
stacked these slates himself, and having seen them 
examined so many times, naturally feels impressed that 
the message comes by some super-human power. 


There is a lady medium in Omaha who is the wife of 
a prominent citizen. She is afflicted, being nearly blind. 
This lady, in her seances, produces large quantities of 
cut flowers, which she claims to materialize from their 
"astral forms." Most persons would think that a lady 


of her standing, and afflicted in the manner she is, 
would not deceive. 

The ladies at her seances are allowed to thoroughly 
examine her clothing, her cabinet and the room ; and 
when nothing suspicious is found she enters her cab- 
inet in full light, and as she materializes the flowers 
she passes them out over the cabinet top. 

I have never witnessed one of her seances myself, 
but I have talked to several who have done so. They 
are almost all firm believers. The flowers are nature's 
own production, and have nature's sap within them. 
They are composed of cells formed by growth, the 
same as other plants. All of this can be verified under 
the microscope. The spirits claim to dematerialize 
these flowers and bring the "astral forms" of them 
through space ; and then through the occult powers of 
the medium, they are enabled to materialize them again 
for the benefit of unbelieving mortals. 

I have good reason to believe that her flowers are 
furnished by a greenhouse in Council Bluffs. Some 
years ago before the medium was afflicted by fail- 
ing eyesight, and when she was a widow, mediumship 
was her profession. She was known as Madam — . 
and had rooms where she held seances for a livelihood. 
At that time she did not work from a cabinet in the 
light, but in a bare, unfurnished room, with lights out. 

She would allow her clothing to be examined by 
the ladies, and would then, after the lights were low- 
ered, walk about within the circle and produce flowers, 
presenting them to different individuals with a suit- 
able message. My friend, the advertising agent, at- 
tended some of these seances. He noticed that the 
medium, after producing a number of flowers, would 
invariably return to a certain position in the room; 


after which she would produce some more flowers. 
She always did this in the same manner ; so he began 
to notice who sat in the position to which she always 

He found a lady there who was the wife of a certain 
sleight-of-hand performer of this city. This lady sat 
between the servant of the medium and the medium's 
daughter in all cases. He became convinced that these 
parties were the confederates of the medium and that 
the flowers were concealed under the skirts of the 
middle lady. 

Accordingly, one time, in conversation with this 
confederate, he spoke of her "smooth work," just as 
if he knew it as a matter of course. The confederate 
then said, "Did Madam — tell you?" and laughed. 
She confessed that she had a large pocket under her 
skirt running around like a sack, in which were the 
flowers. When the confederate entered the room the 
medium invariably began her seance at once, so as to 
keep any one from noticing the fulness of the con- 
federate's skirts. 

My friend had also noticed that when the spectators 
were few, flowers were numerous; and that when 
there were a large number of spectators the flowers 
were scarce. This first led him to suspect that she 
had always the same quantity, and that she always 
exhausted her stock, as the flowers were perishable 

One day this friend was in the medium's rooms 
when a messenger boy arrived with a basket of the 
regulation flowers. They were from Council Bluffs. 
My friend looked at the medium and smiled. She re- 
turned the smile and remarked, "Can you keep a se- 
cret ?" She was evidently going to confide in him ; but 


just then there appeared a caller for a private reading, 
and the opportunity passed. When she rturned to the 
room, she seemed to have changed her mind, and noth- 
ing was said. 

I think she uses no confederate in her present home, 
as she now works in full light ; but I feel confident that 
a trap could be found in the walls or base board be- 
hind her cabinet. It is probably constructed some- 
thing like one I describe in the chapter on material- 
izing. If this be the case and it be well made, it might 
be difficult to locate the secret latch that opens it. 

I may incidentally mention that the son of this lady 
confederate afterwards became a medium of some re- 
nown. He learned under a traveling professional me- 
dium, and grew to be very expert. He is out over the 
world, now following his profession. I know the town 
wherein he is now wintering, as a clairvoyant and 
trance medium. 

The lady medium described above, operated in Den- 
ver, Colorado, for a long time. 


In the spiritualistic part of the realm of trickery, 
fashion has played a not unimportant role. As soon 
as the first mediums could induce the spirits of the 
departed to return to this earth and rap on tables and 
furniture, the fashion rapidly spread and mediums all 
over the country sprang up with exactly these same 
powers. The fashion remains to this day ; although 
there is a book on the market, being a confession of 
one of the founders of this religion, to the effect that 
her work was fraudulent. As soon as a leading me- 
dium spoke of his magnetic powers, all of the mediums 
in the country had magnetic powers, which, strange 


to say, could act on wood, and could also act in ways 
in which magnetism was never known to act. 

As soon as a leading medium started the fashion of 
having an Indian guide, all of the mediums in the 
country had Indian guides. Unto this day this fashion 
is still in vogue. Some mediums now have as manv 
as forty or fifty guides. This is more especially true 
among the non-professional mediums— those who really 
can give no tests, as they are not versed in the art of 
trickery. At some of the materializing seances of a 
certain medium, as he relates it to me, one of the most 
amusing features is the frequent disputes and quarrels 
of this class of persons over certain guides which he 
materializes, and which each claims as his own. 

The next fashion was the dark seance. This always 
seemed so unreasonable to me, and such evidence of 
trickery, that I have always been surprised that other- 
wise intelligent persons could give credence to such 
performances. I have refrained from describing any 
of the tricks of this class heretofore, as I did not con- 
sider them of sufficient importance to justify any at- 
tention. However, a recent occurrence of this kind 
came under my notice, and I found the effect so great 
on persons of some education, that I have decided to 
give my experience of the case to the readers of this 

One evening, not so very long ago, just as I was 
about to retire for the night, my door bell rang; and 
I found some ladies at my door. I knew one of them, 
and she explained the lateness of the call by saying 
that a party of friends and herself had been discussing 
occult phenomena, and that she had mentioned the 
fact that I possessed a crystal globe for crystal gazing. 
Immediately all of the ladies were full of enthusiasm, 


and she could get no peace until she brought them to 

I found that these ladies had, a day or so previously, 
called on a couple of mediums in the neighboring city 
of Council Bluffs ; and that they there had had a most 
marvelous experience. Each of the ladies had a sitting 
with the lady medium ; and as their experiences were 
similar, I will relate the experience of one, a Mrs. 
C — , as related to me. 

This lady is a business woman of Omaha, is pos- 
sessed of considerable means, and moves in high so- 
ciety. They had journeyed to the neighboring town 
for the purpose of seeing the new mediums of whom 
they had heard, and they went into the presence of 
these mediums absolute strangers. 

The lady medium took this lady into a small room 
where absolute darkness reigned, and had a sitting 
with her under test conditions ; that is, the lady placed 
her toes on the medium's toes, her knees against the 
medium's knees, and she thought that she held the 
medium's hands; thus making it impossible for the 
medium to move without her discovering it. 

I should have said that the room was lighted until 
she and the medium took their positions, after which 
her friends turned out the lights and retired to an ad- 
joining room where they faithfully guarded the me- 
dium's husband. 

Now these ladies had heard of tricks being per- 
formed, and were consequently on their guard ; and 
they watched all so closely, that there was absolutely 
no possibility of trickery. 

Soon after the lights were put out, the medium 
passed into a trance state, while the sitter securely 
held her. Soon the sitter felt a breeze pass over Ler 


face as if an invisible hand had passed in front of it; 
and then she heard raps on her chair, on an adjoining 
piece of furniture, and in fact all around her. Next, 
something touched her on the head and person lightly, 
and almost frightened her to death. Meanwhile the 
medium was talking and describing, for the sitter's 
identification, certain spirits that were present. 

Among the things that occurred, there floated into 
the lap of the sitter a letter C. It was softly luminous, 
and the medium stated that this was the first letter of 
the lady's name, which was correct. Numerous soft, 
hazy lights floated about her; and a tin trumpet that 
stood close by floated into the air, passing over the 
sitter's head and giving it a bump, after which voices 
issued from the trumpet. 

One of the most astonishing things the medium did, 
was to inform the lady of an important secret in her 
past life, of which no one in this city knew. It was 
one of those family secrets, such as are in many fam- 
ilies, and it was deeply buried from the public gaze. 
She said she had not thought of this secret for a long 
time, and that this medium gave it to her in the most 
marvelous fashion. As I suggested that the medium 
possibly led her to make remarks from which she di- 
vined the knowledge of this secret, she was very cer- 
tain that the medium had done nothing of the kind. 

One of the ladies, a v/riter for a daily paper here — 
had become greatly frightened during her sitting, and 
had felt herself leaving her own body ; and she could 
see her body standing by her, and she became so 
frightened that she discontinued the seance. 

I laughed at these stories, and told them of some of 
the tricks of mediums ; and even showed them a screen 
covered with luminous paint, which shines beautifully 


in the dark. They then confessed that the lights which 
the medium produced, might have been a trick ; and 
when I told the first lady of the artificial hands some- 
times used, she was not so positive as to whether she 
had held the medium's hands or whether the medium 
had held hers. She, however, was certain that one of 
them held her hands on top of the others, and that 
there was no artificial hand used as the temperature 
was that of a living person. I explained that this 
might even be the case, if the hand had been concealed 
for some time in the lady's clothing. She then con- 
fessed that she had noticed a button in the front of 
the medium's dress, which was unbuttoned when the 
lights were turned up ; and that the medium quickly 
closed it. 

She insisted that the inexplicable part of it all was 
how the medium had discovered her secret. She said, 
"It must be spirits, or else it is mind-reading." I 
said, "I will show you something, myself, if you will 
step into an adjoining room." I handed her a sheet 
of paper with six lines drawn across it, and requested 
her to write a name in each space ; all to be names of 
living persons but one, which was to be the name of 
a dead person. As soon as she did this, I cut them 
apart, as described elsewhere in this work, and folded 
them into billets. 

When she placed these in a hollow skull and held 
them under the table, I directed her to throw them on 
the table one at a time ; and, of course, when she threw 
the one on which was the name of the dead person, 
I told her this was the dead one's name, and read it 
for her without looking at it. 

I also had her write down a number of places and 
diseases, among which was the place of her friend*s 


death and the disease of which she died. I then told 
her the correct ones, where and of which, her friend 
died, this trick being the same as performed by the 
great medium Schlessinger. 

This seemed to dumbfound her ; and then I gave 
her a couple of slates to examine, and proceeded to 
perform one of several slate tricks with which I am 
familiar. When she found a message on these slates 
which had not left her sight at all, and after examining 
them thoroughly, she concluded that she was not ca- 
pable of discerning between trickery and genuine phe- 
nomena. However, she and her friends insisted that 
I see this medium when she should later come to 
Omaha, and still seemed so greatly impressed with 
her that I readily promised. 

A short time after this evening, I received a tele- 
phone call from this lady, announcing that this medium 
and her husband were in town and were not yet lo- 
cated. I accordingly extended them the hospitality 
of my home over Sunday, and invited the aforesaid 
ladies with some ethers to call that evening. 

The mediums arrived at my home in due time, and 
in looking over my paintings and pictures, ran across 
a couple of photographs of myself performing a de- 
capitation act. This w^as their first inkling that I was 
a performer. Next, they happened to mention the name 
of a certain dealer in tricks for mediums, but they did 
not speak of him in this capacity, but in the capacity 
of a medium instead. I did not know that this gentle- 
man ever traveled as a medium himself, and so stated ; 
but they insisted that he had. Whether they be right 
or not as to this, I do not know ; but I showed my 
knowledge of him, and the address of his firm, where- 


Upon the gentleman asked me if I had seen his cata- 
logue. I replied that I had it and that I was a performer 
of many tricks and could give him some valuable in- 
struction if he desired. This put him entirely at his 
ease and he seemed to regard me as a member of the 
profession ; and from this time on he talked openly 
of the work, the various tricks, and the tricks of the 
many mediums over the country whom he knew quite 
well. He spoke of the *'Camp" in Indiana and of the 
mediums he had met there, and told many amusing 

We put in the afternoon instructing each other, and 
he showed me a neat billet and slate test that he and 
his wife used, and also described his materializing 
work in a laughable manner. He seemed to have a 
thorough knowledge of the methods by which two of 
Chicago's most celebrated mediums produce their spirit 
paintings, etc., etc. . He however all along insisted 
that although he had this knowledge of trickery, 
(which he could not well avoid, traveling around in 
this business as he did), that his wife was a genuine 
medium. He openly acknowledged his materializing 
was a smooth trick, but said that to make a living in 
this business, certain tricks were a necessity. He in- 
sisted on the marvelous powers of his wife, however, 
and it was evident that they intended to perform for 
me and leave me in the dark on this part of the ques- 

As soon as it was dark I repaired to a dark room 
and took a seat with the lady. She placed a slate on 
her lap for me to place my palms on, and asked me to 
place the two palms closely together allowing my 
thumbs to contact each other their entire length. She 
now said, *'Mr. Abbott, I will place my hands on yours 


in this manner." As she said this she placed a palm 
on each of my hands, and then she said, "If I should 
lift either hand you could tell it, could you not?" She 
illustrated this by alternately lifting either hand. I 
was sure I could tell if either were removed, and I 
informed her to that effect. 

The lights were now put out and I took my position 
with the medium's knees between mine, and my palms 
on the slate. She again placed her palms on the backs 
of my hands and asked me if I could tell if she re- 
moved either one. She illustrated this again by lift- 
ing either palm and replacing it. This she did two or 
three times. I noted this and remembered it. She 
now replaced her palms, and I was quite sure that she 
did not use an artificial hand; for I felt the fingers 
move on the backs of each of my hands in so lifelike 
a manner as to disprove the idea that either hand was 

She now went into her trance, and first felt the in- 
fluence of a lady whom she described very accurately. 
The description fitted my mother very well, and did 
not fit any other relative that I know who might be 
dead. However, as my mother is alive, I said nothing 
and thus did not lead her on. I must confess that my 
natural impulse was to reply to her statements, which 
she gave Die with such a rising iniiection, as to he 
really asking me a question ; although the mere words 
indicated a positive statement on her part instead of 
a question. I was familiar with this manner of "fish- 
ing" and of course I did not respond. I have since 
learned from my wife that the lady saw my mother's 
picture during the afternoon, but she was given no 
information about her. 

She soon dropped this spirit and brought up that of 


a little child ; then she introduced a second child, and 
said that she took them to be my own. There was 
another rising inflection in this statement, and this 
time I decided to break my silence, but to remember 
what I should say. I therefore informed her that I 
had never had any children. She immediately said, 
"Then it is a brother;" and I said, "Yes." This 
statement was pretty safe on her part, for there are 
few families in which there is not a dead brother. 

Had I not been versed in trickery I can readily see 
how much information I would have given her, for I 
had to continually guard my own tongue ; as her ques- 
tions, or more correctly her statements with a rising 
iniiection, were worded so adroitly and came so rap- 
idly. While this was going on I felt some light touches 
on my person, face, head, etc. ; and not expecting 
them, I started suddenly when I felt them. The 
touches were very short in duration, what a musician 
would call "staccato." They were also very light. 
Soon raps appeared on an adjoining bed, and she 
proceeded to ask the spirits the questions about me, 
and the raps replied. 

The questions were so worded that I could surmise 
that it was intended that I should answer them also. 
In fact, it is natural to reply to statements given with 
a rising inflection, and the uninitiated would have 
done so. 

Sometimes I decided to humor her and I made a 
reply. When such was the case I found that the raps 
would answer so quickly, with me, or rather after me, 
as to appear to be simultaneous with me. However, 
I saw plainly that they followed my own answers ; but 
so very quickly that to the uninitiated they would have 
appeared to be simultaneous with, or even ahead of 


one's own answers. This effect is due to the way the 
answers attract the attention so strongly, coming in 
such a mysterious manner, that I was tempted to for- 
get I had answered the questions. I am sure persons 
in general would have forgotten this fact, for they 
would have been so much more impressed with the 
performance and startled, that they would have been 
laboring under strong excitement ; whereas I was per- 
fectly cool, knowing it was a trick. There is much 
difference in the effect when one knows such a thing 
is a trick, and does not think some supernatural agency 
is at work. 

Meanwhile I saw a soft luminous light floating 
about, and voices came through the trumpet which 
bumped about the room. Raps came on my chair and 
during all this time she never ceased to "pump'' for 

Now at first I was a trifle startled, for I felt that she 
had not removed either hand; but my common sense 
soon told me that she had, and that her left hand, which 
was a large one, rested one-half on each of my hands; 
that at the last moment, before starting the tests, she 
had placed her hand in this position, keeping her right 
hand free. She had apparently raised a palm from the 
hack of each hand, by merely tilting up, the side of her 
left hand which touched one of my hands allowing the 
other side of it to remain in contact with my other 
hand, and remarking, "You can feel when I take this 
one away, can you?" She then tilted up the other 
side making the same remark. 

I knew that she was touching me, and making the 
raps with her free hand ; and that she did the talking 
in the trumpet; and also that the lights were a piece 
of gauzy silk dyed with a preparation containing "Bal- 


main's Luminous Paint." I was surprised at the illu- 
sion to the sense of touch, for it felt precisely as if 
both her hands rested on mine. If any of my readers 
will try this on any of their friends in the dark and not 
explain the secret to them, they will find the illusion 
is perfect. It only requires boldness. There is no 
one, to whom this is unknown, who can tell in the 
dark that two hands do not rest on the backs of his 
hands. The subject must of course place the two 
palms very closely together, allowing his thumbs to 
contact each other their entire length. 

Having failed to give me any information of a start- 
ling nature, owing to her inability to excite me and 
cause me to unconsciously lead her on, she now told 
me to ask for any one I desired and she would see if 
they would come. I asked for William J — , a friend 
who had died recently. She said, "He is here but I 
can not see his face plainly. It seems that he passed 
out suddenly. It seems as if an accident had hap- 
pened?" This was given with a rising inflection. As 
I made no reply she remarked, "Anyway, he passed 
out suddenly." 

My friend had died of typhoid fever, after a week 
or ten days of great suffering. It is true that the dis- 
ease struck him with great violence in a sudden man- 
ner, but I did not get excited and try to apply her re- 
mark to the facts of the case. 

She next remarked, "He was not a musician." I do 
not know what prompted this remark, unless it be that 
she had discovered that I am a musician, and play 
several instruments. She made this remark in a man- 
ner that seemed to expect an answer, but as I made 
none, she said, "No, he was no musician." 

Now, the facts are, my friend was a musician, play- 


ing both cornet and piano well. Among my treasures 
is a phonograph record of a cornet and clarinet duet 
which we played together at one time. I however said 
nothing of this that would help her out; but I then 
fully realized how natural it would have been for the 
average investigator to have given her pointers enough 
to prevent her making this error. 

She next said, "Yes, he passed out suddenly, and 
seems to regret something, as if he left it undone, or 
unsettled." I made no reply, and she said, "As if he 
had left something unpaid, you undersand?" I de- 
termined to humor her and I said, "Something which 
he owed me?" I said this as if she had struck a re- 
sponsive chord, and she said, "Yes, that is it: It was 
what he owed you. He says this is his one regret." 

Now, I will state that I do not believe my friend 
ever owed any debts ; and I am sure that he never 
owed anything to me, and that he left nothing unpaid. 
He was a very honorable and upright young man. 

I next asked for a young lady, Georgia C — . She 
seemed to think this was a gentleman ; and she spoke 
of her in the masculine gender and proceeded to call 
"him" up and remarked on the suddenness of "his" 
demise. I did not respond and she dropped this spirit. 
I may mention that the young lady also died of typhoid 
fever after a long illness. 

She next said, "I can see an accident as of a wreck. 
I see it affects you in some way, and I think others 
also. It either has happened or is to happen." I made 
no response and she said, "Were you ever in a wreck ?" 
and as I was slow in replying, she added, "Or anything 
of the kind?" 

I replied, "Yes, I was in something of the kind." 
In fact I had been in two serious accidents with horses. 


At one time while riding a bicycle, I was struck by a 
runaway horse which ran directly over me ; and there 
is yet a slight injury on my breast from it. At another 
time I was thown from a buggy in a runaway, and was 
totally unconscious for half an hour; and then after 
the return of my reason, was totally without memory 
for a period of one and one-half hours. I could reason 
on my condition, but by no effort could I recall my 
name, or by searching my mind find the least glimpse 
of memory. My reason was perfectly clear, and I 
plainly recollect my striving to remember who and 
where I was. I remember that my first thought on 
the return of reason was the bearing this experience 
had on the possibility of a future life, after the death 
of the body. This incident is of great interest to me 
yet, but is out of place here, so I will not disgress 

I have had other accidents, so I could not tell to 
which one she referred; but I acknowledged an acci- 
dent resembling a wreck. She said, "You had a nar- 
row escape?" I replied, ''Yes." She then said, "You 
still have a scar or something on your person as a 
memento of this ?" I replied that I did ; however, there 
is no scar, but there is a slight enlargement over a rib 
where the hoof struck me. I could easily have said 
a few words, and she would have given me the details ; 
but I only gave her as many pointers as I herein de- 
scribe. She said, "I believe this was with horses some 
way," and I replied, "Yes it was." However she could 
have inferred this from the surprise in my voice when 
I repeated after her the words, "A wreck?" with a 
rising inflection when she first mentioned the accident. 
All persons have had accidents, and it is only for a 
medium to start the subject and "pump" out of the 


sitter the details, after which the usual sitter will think 
the medium gave the details herself. 

I saw how effective her system of "pumping" was ; 
and I saw how most persons would have received 
much better results than I did, by talking more and by 
making unguarded exclamations. Systems of ''pump- 
ing" or "fishing" are an art with mediums, and they 
grow very expert at it, and do it so naturally that it 
takes an expert to detect that he himself is giving the 
medium the information. 

Most persons would have regarded this information 
as most wonderful and would have quickly forgotten 
the little failures she made. In fact, with most, she 
would not have carried her failures so far; for they 
would most naturally have stopped her when wrong, 
instead of allowing her to mislead herself as I did. 

How many of my readers have ever blindfolded 
themselves and t^ied to find a hidden article by touch- 
ing the tips of the fingers of a person who intently 
thinks of the article and its hiding-place? Those who 
have done this will remember the swaying motions of 
the body in the different directions in the endeavor 
to find the direction by first discovering the "line of 
least resistance"; how the subjects resist when the 
operator is wrong; and while they do not lead one, 
how they quickly encourage him by not resisting when 
he starts right. This same principle applies to the 
art of "fishing." The medium mentions many things 
on many subjects, and the sitter resists or overlooks 
the ones on the "wrong track" ; and while not intend- 
ing to lead the medium, shows by encouragement when 
the medium is on the ''right track." 

After the seance I did not at first tell the medium 
I had discovered her trick, but I did tell her that I 


knew how her lights were produced, and this she did 
not deny. I merely said, "I am puzzled as to how you 
handled these lights. Mrs. C. tells me that you floated 
a luminous letter C into her lap, telling her this was 
the initial of her name." The medium replied, "Did 
she say that?" I replied that she did. The medium 
then said, "That shows what a person's imagination 
will do. I had no luminous letters. T merely moved 
the luminous cloth so as to describe a letter C, after 
discovering her name." 

She said that when she gave tests to any one, the 
stories they told afterwards continually grew, and al- 
ways grew to her advantage. That they grew so that 
when they came back to her, she could hardly rec- 
ognize her own work. She said, "It is a fact that be- 
lievers are so anxious for tests, that they always help 
one out ; and they invariably help out, if they be be- 
lievers, in the way that the medium desires they should." 
I afterwards sat with Mrs. C — and repeated the 
tests the medium gave her; and she did not discover 
how I did it, and admitted that I did it just as well 
and successfully as the medium did. I did not tell her 
that I had but one hand on her two hands. I have 
prepared some luminous hands, faces, and forms on 
silk, which I use in such cases; and I find the effect 
of these dark seance tricks is on the average just as 
impressive as are the more difficult feats which I per- 
form in the light. 

I may mention that Mrs. C — had a sitting with this 
medium again on the same evening that I did ; and that 
she insisted to me afterwards, that two hands touched 
her, one on each side of her face, at the same instant. 
This shows the average person's lack of memory when 
describmg little details. I asked her if her face were 


not first touched on one side, and then quickly after- 
wards on the other ; and she admitted that such might 
have been the case. I will say that when my wife had 
a sitting with this medium, there was a very dim light 
in an adjoining hall ; and as my wife faced a transom 
she could dimly see the medium manipulating her free 
arm. The medium was unaware of the slight light 
shining through the transom and of the fact that she 
was between my wife and the light. 

At a later date when better acquainted with this 
medium, she explained to me the means by which she 
had obtained the profound secret which she gave to 
Mrs. C — . Mrs. C — 's most intimate friend accom- 
panied her to the first meeting with this medium and 
had the first sitting. To her own friends, this lady 
pretended to be an ardent believer. In fact she was 
a skeptic, but was very anxious to become a medium 
herself. She accordingly courted the favor of this me- 
dium by revealing to her this secret, in the hope of re- 
ceiving some instruction in the coveted art in return 
for her kindness. 

I am acquainted with a gentleman who in describing 
a slate performance which Slade gave him, solemnly 
tells me that he purchased and took his own slate with 
him, and that it never left his own hands or the light. 
Further he states most positively that he saw the mes- 
sage in the process of appearing on the slate letter by 
letter. This man is a traveling salesman for a large 
firm, a good business man, and honest. Now neither 
Slade nor any other person ever gave such a perform- 
ance ; and among all the magicians who saw Slade, no 
one ever witnessed such a trick. 

Truly, not much reliance can be put in miraculous 


tales related second-hand of such performances. One 

can only test such things by seeing the details oneself. 

* * * 

There is a test that is quite convincing which can be 
given at the close when working the trick which this 
lady medium worked. It consists in passing upon the 
sitter's arm a solid, previously examined steel ring, 
without removing the palms from the back of the sub- 
ject's hands. 

When I perform this, I allow the steel ring to be 
examined before the lights are put out. It is eight 
inches in diameter and is made of quarter-inch wire, 

I then place this ring on the top of my head when 
I take my seat. Now, after placing my left palm on 
the sitter's two hands and going through the subse- 
quent maneuvers with trumpets, luminous hands, faces, 
raps, etc., I quietly reach up on my head and take the 
ring on my right arm. 

I then place my right palm on the back of my left 
hand and allow the third and fourth fingers of my right 
hand to rest on the back of the subject's left hand. 
This seems to him as if I have merely moved two of 
the fingers of my right hand, which he thinks is rest- 
ing on his left. I next press tightly on these fingers, 
and state to the subject that I will now take hold of 
each of his hands without removing my touch from 
them and for him to note this fact. I press tightly with 
the third and fourth fingers of each hand, and do not 
release this pressure ; but with the thumbs of each 
hand, I quickly reach under each of his palms and 
grasp his hands. This I have now done without any 
removal from his touch. I now rise to my feet and 
call for lights. As I do this the ring on my right 


arm settles down upon his left arm ; and when the 
lights are on he finds it there, and thinks it was passed 
upon his arm by some super-human power, never 
dreaming that it was first on my own arm. This is a 
very effective test. 


At one time I knew a materializing medium who was 
one of the best in the country. He did not use con- 
federates and have them enter through a trap, as is 
often done by some of the best mediums who material- 
ize in their own homes in the larger cities. 

I may mention that this latter class very often have 
the trap in the base board behind the cabinet, as ex- 
plained elsewhere in this work. Sometimes the trap 
is in the ceiling and is masked by a heavy border in 
the paper on the ceiling. In such cases the cabinet 
curtains extend to the ceiling; and when the singing 
commences, this trap is opened from the room above 
and a padded ladder let down into the cabinet. The 
various "spirits" descend and perform their parts, 
then return up the ladder, and withdrawing it, close 
the trap. During this time the medium guards the 
cabinet; and a few faithful confederates in the front 
row of spectators see to it that no accidents happen. 
This is one of the best traps ; for the cabinet and walls 
can be inspected thoroughly, before and after the per- 
formance. No one ever suspects the ceiling, which is 
inaccessible to inspection. A trap through the floor 
is sometimes used, but this is not so good an idea. 

The medium to whom I just referred uses none of 
these traps, neither does he submit himself to any of 
the various "rope ties" which are so numerous. He says 
that doing so only creates suspicion. He trusts entirely 


to the loyalty of a few confederates and ardent be- 
lievers, who are seated in the front row and who see 
to it that "conditions" are not disturbed. 

Strangers and skeptics are seated well back. He uses 
many elegant costumes, all made of the finest silk ; and 
they can all be contained in a very small space. He 
has one piece consisting of twenty-one yards of the 
finest white French bridal veiling, which can be con- 
tained in a pint cup. It is two yards wide and very 
gauzy. Such material can only be obtained in the very 
largest cities and is difficult to find even there. 

This is prepared as follows : The fabric is first washed 
carefully through seven waters, and while damp worked 
thoroughly and rapidly through the solution given be- 
low. It is then tacked on a large wall space and left 
there to dry for three days. After this it is washed 
with naphtha soap until all odor leaves it and until 
the fabric is perfectly soft and pliable. Only silk will 
retain the paint through this washing. 

The solution for dyeing is made as follows: One jar 
of "Balmain's Luminous Paint," one-half pint Demar 
varnish, one pint odorless benzine, fifty drops of lav- 
ender oil. All must be mixed together, kept thin, and 
the work done very rapidly. 

This fabric will, after being exposed to the light, 
shine for a long time in the dark and appear as a soft, 
luminous vapor. He uses this piece for the hair, which 
reaches to the floor, when he impersonates Cleopatra 
and other queens. 

The silk for his skirt and waist, is ordinary white 
silk. It is prepared with a most elaborate and beauti- 
ful design of vines, leaves, roses, and so forth, painted 
on it with the undiluted "Balmain" paint. This ap- 
pears many times more brilliant than the gauze. His 


crown, beads, and jewels are also painted with the 
pure paint. They are very brilliant. All parts not 
painted are in perfect darkness. His face can not be 
seen except when he wears a beautiful mask dimly 
illuminated, or when he places a piece of the luminous 
gauze over it, allowing the gauze to shape to, and cling 
to his features. 

It was a beautiful sight in the darkness, to see him 
in this gorgeous appearing costume, while with his 
finely modulated voice he impersonated the voice of 
the Egyptian queen in a "spirit whisper" and in her 
native tongue. 

When made up as an old Indian chief, his costume 
was fantastic to the degree of barbarism. His head- 
dress, feathers, etc., were painted with the pure paint, 
and he wore a dimly illuminated Indian face. It looked 
grotesque to see him in the darkness "doing" a war- 
dance for ardent believers, while in his deep voice he 
chanted in the old chief's native tongue. He was a 
splendid actor and could modulate his voice from the 
deepest basso to the fine voice of the best female im- 

When he was materializing as Queen "Oriana" I 
could first notice a small, vapory light near the floor, 
which gradually grew to the size of a human form. 
Then a few feet from it another appeared gradually. 
These waved about as vapory, willowy ghosts. They 
were the gauze fabric which he had gradually uncovered 
to our view. Then, gradually, his form began appear- 
ing between these, and near the floor; and it grew 
gradually, to full size, while the crown and jewels 
shone with a weird brilliancy that almost lighted the 
room dimly. The two gauzy forms now appeared 
as the shining hair of the queen reaching to the floor. 


When he impersonated a child he seemed to be able 
to contract his size and shrink down so as to appear as 
a little child. He could imitate a child's voice to per- 

He recounted many amusing incidents of his mate- 
rializations, when talking to me, whom he knew to be 
in the possession of his secret. He said it was laugh- 
able sometimes when he was called upon by some of 
the class of believers who have "soul-mates," and who 
desire them to be materialized. 

Doubtless some of my readers have heard of some 
such persons who have studied "occult science" and 
whose "soul-mates" reside on Mars, Jupiter, or some 
other planet. I used to think that these people knew 
better; but I have met so many of them, that I have 
about concluded that they are deluded and actually 
believe in these "soul-mates." Sometimes these persons 
have considerable means, and pay the medium a goodly 
sum to materialize a particular "soul-mate" for them. 

One instance which he related to me was of a lady 
with considerable means whose "soul-mate" was an 
ancient king. She gave this medium fifty dollars for 
a materialization in private. The medium sat in his 
cabinet while his wife sat with the believer in total 
darkness. At the proper time the ancient king ap- 
peared in the gorgeous costume of a barbaric age. 
The lady began weeping, and with tears in her voice 
she cried, "Oh, King! King! you make me so happy!" 
He replied in the lowest and most solemn tones of his 
beautiful voice, "Do not weep, your Majesty. Re- 
member how happy you will be with me when you sit 
by my side on my throne, etc., etc." It was certainly 
amusing to hear him recount this incident and give 


the correct imitation of the lady's tearful voice, fol- 
lowed by his own deep melodious tones. 

He told me that it was in such cases as this that he 
frequently made his "best money." He was wearing 
a beautiful solitaire diamond ring on his little finger. 
He asked if I would like to hear its history. I said that 
I would and he gave me the following story. 

A certain judge of the Supreme Court of an Eastern 
state, had a fiancee who was killed in a railroad wreck. 
This sad accident had occurred just after the judge 
had purchased this ring for her, and before he had an 
opportunity of presenting it. This judge was nearly 
distracted over his loss and visited various spirit me- 
diums. A certain one, a very prominent lady minister 
of a noted spiritualist church in that state, learned of 
all this, but was unable to secure the ring from the 

She met this medium and in his own language gave 
him "the dope for this judge." She told him the judge 
still had the ring and as she could not "work him" for 
it, she would turn him over to the tender mercies of 
this medium. 

When the judge came one afternoon for a reading 
this medium called from the "other side" the judge's 
sweetheart. During the conversation the "spirit" adroitly 
brought up the subject of this ring; and then said that 
if the judge would return that evening, she would 
appear to him, and that he could present this ring to 
her. She said that she would dematerialize it and 
take its "astral" form with her into the "realms of 

The medium then worked very hard securing proper 
make-up material for the evening. At the proper time 
the "spirit" of the lady appeared dressed in a most 


gorgeous bridal costume of the greatest beauty. Her 
face was in darkness and she spoke only in whispers. 
She held the most beautiful lilies-of-the-valley in her 
hands, and her costume was covered with orange blos- 
soms. Some of the flowers were luminous. The sight 
was so beautiful that the judge was deeply affected and 
shed tears. The "spirit" walked towards him and held 
out her little finger, on which the judge slipped the 
diamond, which the medium now wears. 

I asked this medium if he had ever seen a medium 
who could perform any trick which he could not 
fathom. He said that he had, and related to me that 
a certain medium, a lady now in the West somewhere, 
had a secret for materializations that was very fine. 
Her husband had been a chemist ; and she possessed 
some kind of a capsule that she could moisten in her 
mouth and roll towards the spectators in the darkness, 
when it would rise into a luminous vapor the size of 
a human form and move about. There was no odor 
and nothing could be seen if the lights were raised ; but 
on turning them out, it again appeared. He said none 
of the mediums could get the secret of this trick. The 
medium at one time offered to sell some of the cap- 
sules at one dollar each. One medium bought twenty- 
five of them ; but when she tried to use them they 
would not work ; and she almost tore her hair in an- 
guish to think that she, who had duped so many, 
should herself be duped. 

This medium showed me, in his paraphernalia, a 
half-dozen books of "dope" which were for persons 
in various cities he intended visiting. He had secured 
the information which they contained in various ways, 
but most frequently from other mediums who had been 
in these places. 



At one time an acquaintance told me of a wonderful 
experience that he had with a certain medium. He had 
called at the hotel where the medium was stopping, 
and asked for a private reading. The medium, a very 
dignified gentleman, received him, and proceeded to 
give him a very interesting verbal reading. He told 
my acquaintance of many occurrences in his past life, 
of things that were worrying him, etc. Finally he 
brought out a number of slates and gave them to the 
sitter with the request that he select two of them and 
lay the remainder on the bed. The sitter also cleaned 
and thoroughly examined the slates, and under the di- 
rection of the medium held them on his own head. 
The medium merely touched the edges of the frames 
of the slates with the tips of his fingers, which the 
sitter particularly noticed contained absolutely nothing. 
In a few moments the sitter took the slates from his 
head, and separating them, found on the inside of one 
a lengthy message addressed to him by name, and signed 
by the name of his dead mother. The message was 
devoted to subjects which were at that time affecting 
the sitter's life, and which the medium could not pre- 
viously have known as the sitter was a stranger to the 

This acquaintance of mine regarded this perform- 
ance as entirely beyond the possibilities of trickery, 
and as positive proof of communion with the soul of 
his departed mother. 

There was another told me of the same medium, 
and he stated to me that he had bought two slates and 
took them with him to the medium's parlors. That 


these slates positively never left his hands, and yet he 
received a similar message. 

Yet another told me of his marvelous experience 
with this same medium. When he entered the medium's 
parlor, he took his seat at a kind of large table or desk, 
and wrote on a slip of paper the question he wanted 
answered, and folded the same and placed it within 
his own pocket. As he did this the medium was en- 
gaged with a book at the opposite side of a large room. 
When he had finished, the medium began to give him a 
reading verbally. Finally he had the sitter select two 
slates and hold them on his own head ; and in a few 
moments he received a message on the inside of one 
of the slates answering the question he had written, 
and giving additional information, and this was ad- 
dressed to his name. This sitter paid five dollars for 
this reading. 

Now, fortunately, I was personally acquainted with 
this marvelous medium and knew the exact means he 
employed in these tricks. The principle in each of the 
slate tests was the same. Had the spectator been a 
close observer he would have noticed that a large fold- 
ing bed stood across the corner of the room, also that 
one side of the head of this bed did not reach the wall 
by two feet. Had he looked behind this bed he would 
have seen an assistant seated on a chair in his stocking 
feet, with a table, several slates, and some crayon pen- 
cils. He would also have noticed that the room was 
heavily carpeted. 

During the time that the medium was giving the 
first sitter the verbal reading, the concealed assistant 
was writing the message on subjects which the medium 
adroitly hit upon in his conversation, and which he 
cunningly caused the sitter to admit and discuss with 


him. Naturally the sitter said many things which he 
forgot immediately; and the operator being very ex- 
pert in this mental work, even secured his name in the 
conversation, by properly exciting the sitter in a certain 
description of an important event then in the process 
of occurring in his life. Of course the assistant, hear- 
ing all this information, was able to elaborate a mes- 
sage in which all this information was used to very 
telling advantage. 

In his conversation, the operator, at the proper time, 
spoke certain words, which were a secret cue to the 
assistant to close the message and be ready. 

Now when the sitter selected and cleaned the two 
slates and placed them together, the operator had him 
take a seat in a large, strong chair with the back 
towards the head of the folding bed. The operator 
now asked to touch the slate edges, during the trial 
for a message, with the tips of his fingers. When he 
did so, however, he really first grasped the edges of 
the ends of the slates holding them together ; and he 
told the sitter to let loose and bring his palms up under 
and beyond these slates, and to place his two palms 
against the surface of the slate which was nearest the 

The medium, it must be understood, was directly in 
front of the sitter with his arms extending forward 
towards the sitter, and his fingers grasping the ends 
of the slates by their frames. The sitter's arms were 
extended towards the medium, passing under the lower 
edge of the slates zvJiich were held edgewise in a ver- 
tical position, and his palms were pressed against the 
surface of the slate next to the medium. The sitter's 
palms thus faced himself, and the slates were held 
vertically in a position between his palms and his own 


face. They were supported at the ends by pressure 
from the medium's fingers on their edges. It is very 
important that the reader form a good mental picture 
of this, if he desires to understand the trick thoroughly. 

Now while the sitter was releasing his hold on the 
slates and changing the position of his hands, the 
operator deftly slipped the slate that was next to the 
sitter up about one-half inch higher than the slate 
which the sitter's palms touched. 

The operator now held the slates without grasping 
the edges, by merely pressing on the edges with his 
fingers, or squeezing his fingers against the edges of 
the slates. He now moved the slates upwards until 
above the sitter's head, then backwards until the edge 
of the forward slate rested on the sitter's head. The 
sitter's hands followed the slates with his palms re- 
maining in contact with the front slate. The fitter 
naturally supposed that the slates both rested on his 
head ; but really his head, and his hands also, only 
touched the forward slate. 

The medium now began a very interesting talk to 
the sitter ; and as his assistant quietly slipped out from 
behind the bed with the prepared slate, the medium's 
conversation became very animated and almost violent. 
He also applied most of the pressure of his fingres to 
the forward slate ; and relaxing the pressure on the 
upper side of the edge of the rear slate, he allowed it 
to tilt back an inch at the top. The assistant took hold 
of it from behind the sitter, lifted it out and substituted 
the prepared slate in its place, immediately retiring 
behind the bed with the discarded slate. The medium 
now grew more calm ; and bringing the slates forward 
from the head of the sitter into the sitter's lap, he 
placed his own palms on them for a time and then 


asked the sitter to examine them for a message. When 
the sitter remarked that he did not beHeve the writing 
was his mother's, the medium stated that his guide did 
the writing at the dictation of the sitter's mother. 

In the second case I described, wherein the sitter 
purchased and brought his own slates with him, the 
same tactics were followed except that the assistant 
could not prepare the message in advance of the writ- 
ing experiment. He, of course, gathered the informa- 
tion and had a rather short message mentally prepared. 
It took considerably more time to perform the trick, 
but the operator made it so interesting for the sitter 
that this was not noticed. The assistant had to slip 
out at the proper time, take the rear slate, retire and 
write the message, bring it back and replace it, and 
then again retire. 

The sitter was positive that his own slates never left 
his touch ; but the fact was that the rear one on his 
head did, and he overlooked the fact that he was for a 
time merely touching one slate. Of course he never 
dreamed of a third person in the room. 

In the last case I described, the only additional thing 
was the means by which the assistant secured a copy 
of the question which the sitter wrote and concealed. 
This large desk or table the medium carried with him. 
One leg was hollow, and it stood over a hole in the 
floor. As the table was very heavy, no one ever moved 
it. The top was prepared by first covering it with a 
very thin piece of white silk, placing a carbon sheet on 
this ; and then some thin, slick, black cloth was placed 
over all and this cloth was tacked in place. 

Paper and pencils lay on the table. The medium 
directed the sitter to go to the table and write his ques- 
tion and sign his own name to it. As soon as he did 


SO, the medium told him to place it in his pocket, and 
then called him to the center of the room and began the 
reading. Now a strong cord which ran under the floor 
from the assistant, and passed up the hollow leg of the 
table, was securely attached to the corner of the white 
silk on the table under the carbon sheet. Of course, 
at the proper time, the assistant drew in this piece of 
silk and read the carbon impression of the question the 
sitter had written. In this trick the sheet of carbon 
should be slightly larger than the silk and should be 
tacked to the table on the side opposite the hollow leg. 
* * * 

Another medium performed this slate trick in a 
slightly different but very effective manner. He usu- 
ally did it as I shall now describe, when the sitter came 
with his own slates. 

He gave the sitter a slip of paper on which to write 
his question and requested him after writing to retain 
it in his pocket. He next gave the sitter a large rubber 
band to fasten the two slates together. When this was 
done, he took the slates in the tips of the fingers of his 
right hand, and placed them on the sitter's left shoul- 
der just back of his range of vision ; while with his 
left hand he grasped the sitter's two hands and looked 
into his eyes. He now gave the sitter an interesting 
verbal reading, after which he brought the slates into 
view and gave them to the sitter to unfasten and ex- 
amine. When this was done, the sitter, greatly to his 
own mystification, found on the slates a lengthy mes- 
sage covering the two sides of the slates that were 
together, answering the question, and signed by the 
spirit to whom it had been addressed. 

The secret was very simple. The slip of paper which 
the medium handed to the sitter had been previously 


rubbed on both sides with white spermaceti wax. 
This was done while the paper rested on a smooth 
surface. Some pressure was appHed, and the paper 
well rubbed, until it was coated with the wax. This 
could not be detected by one inexperienced. The me- 
dium saw to it that the sitter placed this slip on his 
(the sitter's) own slate while writing. This left the 
question transferred to the slate with a slight coat of 
wax. This was hardly noticeable. Now the rubber 
band was put around the slates, and the medium placed 
them in the position described above. While he enter- 
tained the sitter properly with the verbal reading, his 
confederate slipped out and took the slates, leaving 
two others in their stead which the medium now al- 
lowed to rest on the sitter's shoulder. 

The confederate took the slates behind the bed, 
opened them, dusted common talcum, or toilet powder 
on the slates, shook it around, and as the powder ad- 
hered to the wax, he read the question and name. He 
now cleaned the slates, wrote the message with soft 
crayon, closed the slates, slipped out behind the sitter 
and made the second exchange. A good powder to use 
in this experiment is dry white lead. 


I will describe in this number a very novel seance 
which I attended recently. It was a dark seance; but 
the most unusual part was that the work was really 
billet work, and it was performed in the most complete 

This trick is but little known at present and the 
effect is simply beyond description. We called at the 
medium's parlors, and were each given a small white 
card and an envelope. We were instructed to write 


on the cards the questions we desired answered, to ad- 
dress them to our spirit friends, and to sign our own 
names, as is usual in such cases. We were also ad- 
vised to let no one know what we had written, and to 
seal the cards in the envelopes. Wax was furnished, 
so that those who desired could seal their envelopes 
in this manner as an extra precaution. A number of 
the guests took advantage of this ofifer. 

As soon as the questions were sealed, the medium 
entered the room and the lights were put out. The 
most complete darkness reigned. We sat around the 
room holding each other's hands, and the medium felt 
her way around in the darkness and collected our 
sealed missives in her hand. 

She next took her seat opposite us in the room, and 
gave each person the most marvelous test. She did 
not read the questions word for word, which would 
have detracted from the effect, but gave the tests after 
this manner : "I feel the influence of cold, chilly water, 
and I hear the splashing of the waves of the sea. I 
see a great storm raging, and I get the influence of 
one who was a brother. He speaks the name of Harry 
and says, 'Ella, do not worry about me. I am very 
happy now and know neither sorrow nor pain. All is 
brightness and joy over here.' Miss Smith, your 
brother is in the realm of bliss over there." 

The question from which this test was given read as 
follows : 

"Brother Harry: Did you suffer much agony when 
you were washed overboard and drowned? 

—Ella Smith." 

These tests were all given in the most complete dark- 
ness ; after which the medium requested that some 


committee come to her and receive the unopened en- 
velopes in the darkness, before the Hghts were Hghted. 
This was done. 

After this the room was lighted ; and each guest se- 
lected his envelope by a slight mark which each had 
been requested to place on it, and received the same 
unopened and unaltered from the hands of the com- 

The effect of this seance can well be imagined. The 
guests did not write on any object that could receive 
any impression of their writing. The medium could 
not use odorless alcohol in the darkness ; and in fact no 
one could read any question, even were it not sealed, 
in such darkness. 

The secret is a simple one. If a person take a thin, 
white card and write on it, this can be sealed ; yet the 
writing can be read easily in the darkness, if a small 
electric pocket-flash-light be held behind the envelope. 
It could not be done in a lighted room, but in the dark- 
ness the wTiting appears very plain and legible. The 
small pocket-light can be concealed in the pocket of 
the medium ; and the medium also has a large hood or 
sack made of rubber cloth or some cloth impervious to 
light, which is long enough to cover the upper portion 
of the person, including the head and hands. This 
sack is secreted in the pocket of the medium. After 
the envelopes are collected, the medium takes her seat 
near two confederates who prevent accidents ; and in 
the darkness she withdraws the sack from the pocket, 
placing it secretly over the upper portion of her person. 

She now takes the flash-light out of her pocket and 
proceeds under cover of the sack to read the questions 
and give the tests. The room being in total darkness, 


the subjects never know what the medium has done or 
is doing, but consider that she is in a partial trance. 

After the tests are given, she takes off the sack, re- 
places it and the light in her pocket, and calls for the 
committee to receive the envelopes before the room is 

The credit for the invention of this fine trick belongs 
not to a medium, as might be supposed, but to a magi- 
cian,— Mr. Henry Hardin (E. A. Parsons) of New 
Haven, Conn. This gentleman is the originator of 
many subtle tricks used by both mediums and magi- 
cians. Many of his secrets are catalogued and sold by 
the dealers ; and a number of the effects published in 
Professor Hoffman's Later Magic are of his invention, 
although the credit is given to certain dealers. This 
can be verified by referring to the old files of the 
magician's journal, Mahatma, wherein he first gave 
their secrets to the world. The trick just explained 
was advertised in Mahatma some years ago under the 
title of "The Trance Vision." 

A medium once told me that the public never know 
half of the money that is gathered by the mediums. 
He said that they are continually "playing for big 
stakes" as this is where the "big money" is secured. 

He also said that it is not the common people who 
are the best patrons of mediums, but doctors, lawyers, 
merchants, teachers, and the more intelligent class of 
persons. He said that scientific persons make the best 
of subjects, because they are in earnest and give the 
best attention ; which fact is of the greatest importance 
for the success of any trick. 

He said that really mediums do not care for per- 
forming for spiritualists so much, as they expect so 
much for their money; and if given a fine piece of 


work, they accept It as a matter of course. Mystery, 
he said, has become commonplace to such people. It is 
the more intelligent class, who call themselves "in- 
vestigators," that are willing and able to pay "good 
money" for a medium's services. 

He told me that he had known many other mediums 
and that the foundation of nearly all of their work is 
some variation of the principles of reading a billet 
written by a sitter, or some form of a slate or paper- 
writing experiment. 

He said that he had never met a medium or other 
performer in all his experience, except an Indian ma- 
gician, but who would talk openly of his tricks the 
moment he made himself known and gave the per- 
former to understand that he was "posted" and that 
he had no interest in exposing him. 

He said that usually mediums can perform only one 
or two tricks; but that they perform these so often, 
and become so very expert, that their tricks are almost 

Indian conjurors are, as a rule, of this class, and 
simply excel in just one or two tricks which they know 
to perfection. Like the mediums, they claim that their 
tricks are a genuine performance; and this lends the 
charm of mystery to their work, which more than 
doubles its effect. 


I HAVE decided to give to my readers (in so far as 
I am at liberty to do so) the methods I generally 
use, when reading sealed writings for a company as- 
sembled in double parlors. 

For a long time I had intended to guard these secrets 
carefully and keep them entirely for my own use, as 
is done by many performers. 

While magicians frequently publish or allow to be 
published many valuable secrets, yet the secrets of 
their very latest and best work are jealously guarded 
from the public. The reason for this is because if the 
secrets become too generally known, it lessens the 
value of the experiments for purposes of entertain- 
ment, by rendering them common. Consequently, 
from the magician's point of view, it is regarded as 
out of place to allow such secrets to become public 
property through publication. 

In some instances secrets of this class are sold by 
certain dealers to performers, and to professional me- 
diums, at prices that might astonish an outsider. If 
the secrets are regarded as exceptionally good and a 
high price placed upon them by the vendor, so few 
will buy them that the performance of the experiments 


will be very rare, and the performer can well afford 
to pay the high price asked. When such sale is made, 
it is generally accompanied by a request that the pur- 
chaser faithfully guard the secret from the public. 

The fundamental principles of these experiments are 
not new, but the details make them useful for prac- 
tical purposes. I purchased them from dealers who 
place considerable value on them ; as they are cata- 
logued at prices which, for the four I am about to 
describe, make an aggregate of some seventy dollars. 

As received by me from the vendors, I found some 
of them impracticable until I had added certain im- 
provements to the ideas. In the improved form I 
assure my readers that they are thoroughly practicable, 
as I have performed them some hundreds of times with 
such success as would astonish one who has not seen 
them. I have never yet made a failure in performing 
them ; nor have I found even one person, among the 
many who have witnessed their performance, who 
could even remotely guess at the methods employed. 
There are many methods of reading such writings, 
but the ones I am about to describe are the very best of 
which I have ever even heard.. 

Still, my readers must not expect me to explain a 
miracle. Miracles are never performed. The experi- 
ments are pure trickery ; but if properly performed, 
have the appearance of being produced by some occult 
or psychic power. However, all that is necessary is 
a few simple articles, and their proper manipulation. 
When one reads the explanation of a trick before see- 
ing it performed, the value of the trick is seldom 
realized. It would be much better, were it possible to 
do so, to see it performed first and then read the ex- 
planation afterwards. However, as this is impossible in 


this instance, I will first give the effect, or appearance of 
the experiments as I perform them, and follow this 
with an explanation of the methods employed. Per- 
formers who may read this, will notice that most of 
the articles employed have been previously used in 
such experiments; and they may not at first sight 
attach the importance to these experiments which they 
deserve, owing to the fact that as used heretofore such 
tricks were by no means a decided success. The ideas 
have gradually been improved upon, and the perfected 
tricks are the result of a process of evolution. A few 
little improvements will frequently make a poor trick 
one of the best and most difficult of detection. 

Each of the four is performed on a different prin- 
ciple, and is fine when performed singly. They should 
first be practiced in this manner; but as I produce 
them, I work them as one experiment, or rather as a 
combination trick. I have performed two of them 
singly from the stage with the greatest success; but 
worked in combination, I generally give them in a 
double parlor. Here the effect is so great, especially 
on the more intelligent class of persons, (owing to the 
fact of all being done under the very eyes of the spec- 
tators,) that I prefer this method ; and I shall describe 
the experiments as I perform them in my double par- 

I would suggest that those who desire to easily 
grasp the explanations should pay close attention to 
the following description, as it is given with a view 
to making the explanations intelligible. Each little 
detail should be remembered ; for all is for a purpose, 
and must be just so. 

I have the audience seated in the front parlor, and 
facing the back parlor which opens into other apart- 


ments, through a folding door. I have a writing desk 
in the rear parlor in which there is a drawer containing 
the articles I use ; and to which I frequently go to get 
new articles, sometimes getting rid of others at the 
same time. There is also in the center of this back 
parlor an ordinary table, on which I place a porcelain 
skull open at the top. 

Briefly stated, when I perform this combination ex- 
periment, I first prepare the three sealed writings that 
I am to read ; and I then proceed to read first the one 
prepared last. I next read the one prepared first ; and 
then, after a slight wait, give a slate writing experi- 
ment, producing a message signed by the name of the 
person which the second writer has written on her 
sheet of paper, sealed, and kept in her own possession. 
After this I read the writing of the second writer, and 
answer the question asked therein. 

There is some little time taken up in the prepara- 
tion of the different writings ; so in order that the 
spectators may not grow restless, and also to give 
them some food for thought during the wait, (and inci- 
dentally to render my task more easy to accomplish,) 
I first perform Yost's ''Spiritualistic Slate and Dic- 
tionary" test. 

This is a very fine spirit slate trick in which three 
slates, a flap, some other articles and some excellent 
manipulation each play a part. Its effect upon the 
more intelligent class is very marked. This experi- 
ment convinces the spectators that the performer can 
"do things" and that they are not wasting their time 
in what is to follow. It thus does not allow the inter- 
est to lag during the little time required in the prep- 
aration of the writings. It also occupies the minds 
of the spectators to such an extent that what is to 


follow is much more easily accomplished. Further 
on in this work I will describe and explain the trick 
referred to here. 


I now proceed to prepare the first writing. This, 
however, I shall read second. I request some lady 
to be seated in a chair in one of the front corners of 
the front parlor. This places her rather in the rear 
of the spectators. I state that this is to prevent the 
others from seeing what she writes. 

I now step to the writing desk and bring forward 
some envelopes and slips of paper. I hand an en- 
velope and a slip of paper to the lady, asking her to 
write plainly on the slip of paper some question about 
her future which she would like to have answered. 
I ask her to hold the paper in her left hand, in such a 
manner while writing that neither the audience nor 
myself can in any manner see what she is writing. 
As she thus holds the back of her hand which con- 
tains the paper towards us, it effectually conceals her 
writing. I pay no attention to her while writing, ex- 
cept an occasional glance to see that she complies with 
my request. 

As soon as she finishes writing, I request her to fold 
the paper in half. This she does. I now request her 
to fold it in half the other way and when she does so, 
I ask her to place the same in the envelope herself and 
to seal it herself. When she has all ready, I direct her 
to place it in her own pocket and keep it there until 
after I have read it. I in no way touch it. 

When I desire more questions to be written. I pass 
to other ladies with the remaining envelopes and slips 
of paper, and have others prepared. I always do this 


when performing from a stage ; or have my assistants 
pass to four or five persons each, thus preparing some 
eight or ten questions for me to read mentally. I, 
however, rarely prepare more than one question when 
performing in parlors, as the time taken up delays the 

I now proceed to prepare the second writing which, 
however, I read last when I have begun the reading. 

I ask the lady, whom I shall call Lady Number One, 
to exchange seats with some other lady ; and this lady 
I shall call Lady Number Two. 

I next bring Lady Number Two an ordinary writing 
tablet, and ask her to write on it some question about 
her future which she would like to have answered ; 
and also to write below this question the name of some 
person who is now dead, from whom she would like 
to receive a message. I also request her to hold the 
tablet while writing in such a m^anner that no one can 
see the writing, and to use care that no one in any 
way may know what she writes. I ask her to leave 
a margin around the sheet free from writing, to be 
used for folding purposes ; and when she is through 
with the writing, to tear off the sheet, fold It several 
times, then seal it in a small envelope which I have 
previously given her, place the same immediately in 
her own pocket and keep it there until I have read 
it. When she has all prepared, I direct her to lay the 
tablet on a table that is convenient, and there it re- 
mains throughout the evening in full view. When 
she lays it on the table I do not go near it or pay any 
attention to it ; and it can be examined thoroughly, as 
there is no carbon paper or any similar thing about 
it. I do not especially call attention to this fact, as 
the suggestion of any possible trickery weakens the 


eflfect. However, on several occasions I have noticed 
certain wise persons examining it quietly. This is all 
the preparation for Lady Number Two's writing ; and 
I now proceed to prepare the third writing, which 
when prepared I read as the first reading. 

I now bring from my drawer a small card about 
one - thirty - second of an inch in thickness, red on 
one side and white on the other. These are cut from 
ordinary cardboard, obtainable in any printing office. 
I ask some gentleman whom. I regard as particularly 
intelligent, or as hard to deceive, to kindly take his 
seat in the center of the rear end of the front parlor. 

I ask him to write across the card the name of some 
great man, statesman, or politician, any one of whom 
he can think, living or dead ; only I ask him to write 
the name plainly in a bold hand, and to be very care- 
ful that no one sees what he writes. I also give him 
some article, it makes no difference what, (usually one 
of the slates used in the "Spirit Dictionary" trick,) on 
which to place the card while writing. I ask him 
when through to turn the card over face downward 
on the slate, turning it over towards himself and not 
towards the audience, as otherwise they might see the 
writing. This he does. While he is preparing this 
card I return to the rear parlor to the drawer to get 
some other articles, and pay no attention to him until 
the card is written and turned over, and until he in- 
forms me of that fact. 

I now come forward with an envelope into which the 
card will fit nicely; and presenting it to him open, 
flap side toward him and face downward, I ask him to 
insert the card himself, keeping the writing downward 
while so doing. I merely ask the privilege of touch- 


ing the card with the tip of my finger as he is passing 
it into the envelope. 

I next request him to seal the envelope himself, to 
place it on the slate sealed side upward, and to make 
certain marks across the sealed parts so that he can 
tell if I should tamper with the same. I now bring 
forward a seal and some sealing wax. I give him 
the seal previously moistened, and proceed to melt the 
wax, allowing it to drop on the center of the envelope. 
At the same time I request him to seal the envelope 
doubly, and to examine the seals so thoroughly that 
there can be no possibility of substitution. When all 
is prepared I am ready to begin the readings. 


I now take the gentleman's envelope in the tips of 
my fingers ; and, stepping to the center table of the 
second parlor, I lean it against the skull previously 
mentioned, so that the wax seal faces the audience, 
while all is in the brightest light. 

I instantly return to the front parlor; and, seating 
myself facing the spectators, I pay no attention to the 
sealed envelope resting against the skull in the back 
parlor. This requires not over two seconds of time, 
there being no pause whatever in my movements. 

I proceed to make passes over my own face in a 
manner similar to those which the early mesmerists 
made over their subjects. I simulate considerable 
nervousness, allow my shoulders to be convulsed a time 
or two, gaze toward the ceiling as if looking into in- 
finity, and begin my attempt to read. I first request 
the writer not to answer any questions I may ask, ex- 
cept those I may ask him directly. This prevents him 


from answering the first questions I ask and which 
I am directing to some unseen being. 

I hold my hand to my ear, d la Schlessinger. Al- 
lowing it to tremble violently, I ask the unseen spirits 
if the name written on the card is the name of a per- 
son living or dead. I apparently hear an answer which 
the spectators do not hear, for I turn to the writer and 
with great solemnity inform him that he has written 
the name of one who is now dead. This of course is 
supposing that he did write the name of a dead person. 
If the person should happen to be living, I with the 
same solemnity announce that fact to him. 

Let us now suppose that the name written is that of 
Aaron Burr. I again turn to the spirits and ask if the 
person whose name is written died more than one 
thousand years ago. When they answer me I turn 
to the writer informing him that the person whose 
name he has written died less than one thousand years 
ago. I then ask the spirits if this man died in the last 
five hundred years and get the answer that he died in 
the last century. This I also give in a dramatic man- 
ner. I then say, while gazing into emptiness, *T see 
before me a man who is 'small in stature and slight in 
figure but with a face finely cut and almost classic in 
its mold.' He wears no beard, his hair is brushed 
back from over a wide forehead, and he regards me 
with a pair of beautiful eyes. There is a look of in- 
effable sadness on his face, as if there were something 
he would have undone. He wears a coat of black 
velvet, with black velvet knee breeches, black silk 
stockings and shoes with silver buckles. I see behind 
him a beautiful lady who regards him with a look of 
infinite tenderness and pity. She appears to be a 


The effect of this is very fine, as the writer corrobo- 
rates my statements, or else states that he himself is 
not familiar with the personal appearance of the one 
whose name he has written. 

I now attempt to read the writing. I begin by look- 
ing into space and repeating the letters of the alpha- 
bet. I finally get the letter A. I repeat the process. 
When about to get the second letter a, and while 
making great efforts to get it and seeming rather un- 
certain, I request the writer to be so kind as to step 
to the table and bring his envelope and hold it on the 
top of my head. This he does while I close my eyes, 
and proceed with slight effort to read the complete 

I offer him a knife and ask him to open the enve- 
lope and see if his card is still within untouched, which 
of course it is. I also ask him to examine the seal and 
the envelope, and to hold the same close to the light 
and see if it is possible to read the writing through 
the envelope. This he and the spectators do, and of 
course find everything as it should be and the writing 
perfectly invisible. When he returns the envelope to 
me I offer it to him to keep as a souvenir, which gen- 
erally is accepted gladly by him. 

I am now ready to read the writing of Lady Number 
One and answer the question she has written. I ask 
her if she still has concealed about her the writing 
which she sealed and retained herself. She replies in 
the affirmative. I then ask her if any one in the world 
knows what she has written. Upon her informing me 
that no one knows, and of the impossibility of such 
a thing being the case, I ask her what she will think 
if I now succeed in reading, her question without go- 
ing near her, while she retains the same in her own 


pocket. The spectators generally express their in- 
credulity as to the possibility of such a proceeding, 
upon which I inform them that I will make the effort. 

I ask the lady, in order to remove the idea of mind- 
reading or telepathy, to keep her mind entirely off 
what she has written. I then make the second effort, 
assuming an air of great earnestness. I slowly read her 
question letter by letter, and give a full and minute 
description of the writing, the style of letters used 
and any peculiarities of any of the letters. The effect 
of this can well be imagined. 

I now ask her to open her envelope, to examine it 
carefully and see if I am correct, and to exhibit the 
same to the spectators. This she does, while I stand 
at a distance repeating the peculiarities of the strokes 
of the letters, etc., for their verification. I never look 
at the writing at all even after reading it. I simply 
pay no attention to it, as my mysterious power of 
vision is now superior to the sight of mortal eyes. 

I now tell Lady Number Two to continue to keep 
her writing concealed, and that I will use it shortly ; 
whereupon I freqently have a selection of music ; or if 
not, I allow the spectators a minute or two of time 
in which to consider and talk over what they have just 


* * * 

I am now ready to produce a spirit message for 
Lady Number Two, signed by the name which is writ- 
ten below her question on her concealed paper ; and to 
read and answer her question. 

I arrange a table just inside the back parlor, side- 
wise to the spectators, placing a chair on each side of 
the table and two slates on the table. I ask Lady 
Number Two to come forward, take the chair next 


the audience and to clean the slates. As she does 
this I seat myself at the opposite side of the table. 

As soon as she cleans them, we place the slates 
under the table; and I ask her to hold them while I 
place my hands on the table top. In a few moments, 
under my instructions, she brings from under the table 
the slates, on which is a fine spirit message of philo- 
sophical import, to which is signed the dead person's 
name which she has written on the sheet of paper and 
which she still retains sealed. The effect of this upon 
her, and upon her friends who may have known this 
person, is very great ; especially as it is some one of 
whom I have never heard. I have very frequently 
known some of the spectators, who happened to be ac- 
quainted with the person whose name is signed to the 
message, to identify the writing and sometimes to iden- 
tify the language as that of the dead person. 

I next, with some little effort, proceed mentally to 
read her question, minutely describing the writing, etc. 
I then ask her to bring out the envelope, exhibit the 
writing and verify my statements, which she does. I 
now proceed to answer her question ; and if I have not 
previously done so, to answer the question of Lady 
Number One. Let us suppose the question asked is, 
"Will I ever be wealthy?" I first consult the ''Mystic 
Oracle of the Crystal Spheres." I place on the table 
a highly polished crystal globe three inches in diam- 
eter, such as is used for experiments in "Crystal Gaz- 
ing." This globe is supported by a bronze griffon. 
I have the lady gaze into the globe while I intently 
look into it from the opposite side. I then with solem- 
nity inform her that she will never be wealthy but that 
she will be "well-to-do." 

I assure my readers that the effect of this all is just 


as great as if I really performed by some occult power 
that which in reality I have but performed by trickery 
of the simplest kind. I would have no trouble in pass- 
ing it off on the majority of my spectators as the work 
entirely of spirits. The experiments are so superior to 
those usually employed by mediums, that the audience 
is simply confounded. Also, there is abundant oppor- 
tunity after reading the dead statesman's name, to call 
him up in the manner so common with mediums and 
give the audience an elaborate message from him, which 
will have much weight with them, owing to the man- 
ner in which his spirit has been summoned from the 
land of shadows. However, I will say that while I 
use these things in the manner outlined, after all is 
over I assure my audience that it is not spirit power 
which I use; but I do not tell them it is trickery, as 
that would detract from the effect. I simply let them 
speculate and think what they please ; and I not in- 
frequently find them determined, notwithstanding my 
statement to the contrary, to believe that it is the work 
of spirits, or else some occult power which I possess. 
I have had intelligent and wealthy business men of 
Omaha and other places question me, afterwards, about 
the apparently marvelous power which they seem to 
think I possess. 

At one time I gave to the sisters of a Catholic school, 
or convent, one of my entertainments. I had the 
Mother Superior write and seal the great man's name. 
The name she wrote was "Hannibal," which of course 
I read for them very successfully. I was some time 
afterwards informed, privately, that one of the sisters 
ever after insisted that I was in league with His Sa- 
tanic Majesty. This was notwithstanding the fact that 
in this particular instance I had assured them that it 


was nothing but trickery. I knew the teachings of the 
Roman Church in regard to anything hke sorcery, or 
necromancy, or even modern spirituahsm ; and not de- 
siring to give offense, I stated in advance that I was 
merely illustrating what might be done by trickery 
and how good people might be imposed upon by im- 
postors. I stated that such things were never done by 
spirit power; and the Mother Superior remarked that 
she was sure, if spirits did such things, they were only 
"evil spirits." In this case I only gave the single read- 
ing of the statesman's name as described above. I do 
not know what would have been the result, had I per- 
formed the complete combination experiment, with all 
the dramatic play I usually employ. 

The description given above is the exact appearance 
of the experiments as seen by the audience. This is 
exactly what the spectators see or think they see ; and 
it is all that any of them do see. However, things are 
not always just what they appear to be. 


And now to tear down the structure I have erected 
— to shatter the idols, and return from the romantic 
land of mystery to the commonplace things of earth. 

I will proceed to explain the principles and the meth- 
ods I really employ in reading these writings. The 
readers of this work who desire to fully grasp the ex- 
planations I am about to give should either memorize 
the description of the experiments, or else refer to each 
one separately when reading the explanation of that 
particular one. 

I will give the explanation of the different tricks as 
far as I am at liberty to do so, and in the order in 
which I read them. I will explain each one separately 


beginning with the reading of the statesman's name, 
which was the third writing in the preparation. 

The reader will remember that after this envelope is 
properly sealed with wax, I take it in my fingers and 
carry it to the table in the back parlor, and lean it 
against the skull. The principle used consists in this 
instance in rendering the envelope temporarily trans- 
parent, and instantly reading the writing in it unseen 
by the spectators, while on my way to the table. 

I use, for this, "Colonial Spirits," which is an odor- 
less wood alcohol manufactured in this country. If 
a sponge saturated with this be rubbed across any piece 
of paper, it is rendered instantly transparent, as soon 
as moistened ; and any writing under it can be easily 
read. In a few moments the alcohol evaporates, and 
the transparent condition of the paper disappears. This 
principle has been known for some time in the world 
of magic, but not in the particular way in which I use 
it; and therefore it has not usually been worked so 

I accomplish my object in the following manner. I 
have in the drawer with my paraphernalia a half ounce 
round tin box such as druggists use for vaseline and 
similar articles. I have crowded into this box a small 
silk sponge which fills it a little above the edges like 
an envelope moistener. I have soldered to the bottom 
of this box on the outside, a circular disk of tin for the 
purpose of ''palming." This box I prepare in advance 
just before the experiment by saturating the sponge in 
it with colonial spirits. I leave the lid on the box to 
prevent evaporation until I am ready for it. 

When I have the envelope sealed with wax, I return 
the sealing wax and the seal to the drawer in the 
writing desk ; and this gives me the opportunity to 


palm and go forward with the box containing the 
saturated sponge. I allow my right hand, which con- 
tains it, to hang carelessly against my right side. This 
effectually conceals it, and I avoid looking toward 
my right hand in any manner. I advance leisurely 
to the writer and ask him if he is sure he can be certain 
of the identity of the wax seal, and if he could tell if 
the same should be broken. I now take the envelope 
from him with my left hand, and turn around carrying 
it to the table. On the way, as soon as the envelope 
is out of the angle of view of the spectators, I raise my 
right hand, and, passing the sponge over the face of 
the envelope a couple of times, quickly read the name 
under the bright light of a gasoline pressure lamp with 
which for such occasions I have my parlor lighted. 

Having the writer choose the name of a statesman 
or some great man, greatly facilitates the reading; as 
the names written are usually so familiar that the 
merest glance is sufficient to read them. I then, as 
soon as I reach the table, turn half around so that my 
left side faces the audience ; and with my left hand 
still holding the envelope with the seal towards the 
spectators, I stand it on the table against the skull, 
asking the spectators if they can plainly see the seal 
from there. 

The envelope has only been out of the view of the 
spectators a fraction over a second ; yet I now know 
the name on the card. Meanwhile, with the right hand 
I secretly drop the moistener into my right coat pocket, 
or preferably into a small bag at the back of the table 
behind the skull. If I use the bag at the back of the 
table, I have it suspended open from a pivoted wire, 
so that I can quickly swing it under the table out of 
view with the fingers of my right hand. This I do, 


after dropping the molstener into it ; and at the same 
time with the left hand I place the envelope against 
the skull, and direct the attention of the spectators 
to the seal by my discourse, and by my looks. I in no 
way look toward my right hand. Swinging the cloth 
bag under the table, makes it safe for the writer of 
the name to go to the table and get the envelope when 
I request him to do so. I make all of my movements 
leisurely, throughout the entire experiment ; as by so 
doing I can have a little more time when walking to 
the table with the envelope, and yet not attract the 
attention of the spectators to this fact. 

For the dramatic play, it is necessary to have a 
previous knowledge of the personal appearance and 
history of the great men of the country whose names 
are most liable to be written. The time required in the 
dramatic play before the reading allows the alcohol 
to thoroughly dry ; so that there is no trace of it when 
the writer of the name goes to the table after it. By 
using colonial spirits there is no odor noticeable. It 
is safe to say that in a few seconds after the sponge 
is passed over it, the moistened side of the envelope 
could be turned towards the audience ; and nothing 
would be detected, as the alcohol evaporates so quickly. 
I use a small envelope of wove paper of sufficient 
thickness to effectually conceal the writing in the 
strongest light. I found it necessary to use a card, the 
white side of which is not glazed and which has a 
slightly dirty color; as otherwise the writing would 
be slightly visible through the envelope, and thus mar 
the effect of the experiment. If a thicker envelope is 
used, a whiter card may be used also ; but a thick en- 
velope is not rendered so transparent as a thinner one. 
I use two styles of envelopes, — a thin one where the 


lights are not strong, and a thicker one if the Hghts 
are strong. I hke to use stationery that can afterwards 
be inspected by daylight; so, therefore, at my home 
I use a gasoline pressure lamp on such occasions, as 
a strong light in the room permits the use of an en- 
velope of sufficient thickness. I also select a style of 
envelope that does not expand or pucker from the 
effects of the alcohol, and thus arouse suspicion. 

When I have the writer turn the card over on the 
slate tozvards himself and not towards the spectators, 
this is in reality to insure having the writing right side 
up when I afterwards pass the moistener over the en- 
velope. I present the envelope to him open, flap side 
towards himself, face downward, and hold it until he 
has started the card into it. When I ask permission 
to merely touch the card on its way into the envelope 
with the tip of my finger, I do this to insure the card 
going into the envelope with writing towards the front 
side. When I afterwards pick up the envelope I notice 
which is the flap he has just sealed, and I have this 
flap uppermost. This brings the writing right side 
up in my hand, and saves the time necessary to turn 
the envelope when reading it. 

I furnish the writer with a large-leaded soft pencil, 
not too sharp, to write with, though any pencil will 
do. However, a pencil of above description makes the 
writing plainer and in a larger hand, which is of con- 
siderable assistance in reading the writing so quickly. 
The reader will remember, that I also request the 
writer to write the name in a bold hand plainly. 

Should one reach the table before succeeding m 
reading the name, it were better to make a slight pause 
than to fail with the trick. However, after a few trials 
this will never happen. 


Immediately after leaning the envelope against the 
skull, I return to the front parlor and proceed with the 
readings as given in the description of the appearance 
of the experiments. 

While considerable time is required to read this 
chapter, much less time is required in giving the read- 
ings. Only fifteen or twenty minutes is required for 
the entire combination experiment. 

The principle of using odorless alcohol on a sponge 
has been published before, but as heretofore described 
I have never found the trick practicable. As furnished 
by the vendor, the instructions are for the performer 
to have several of these envelopes prepared by himself 
or his assistant ; and to have them placed flat on a table, 
at which the performer seats himself. He now partly 
closes his eyes ; but in reality he can see the envelopes 
all the time. Then he slowly passes the hand with 
the sponge over the different envelopes, reading aloud 
the writing therein. It is intended to convey the idea 
to spectators that by passing the hand over the enve- 
lopes the performer gets en rapport with them. This 
method is obviously for the stage only, as in a parlor 
the spectators could see the effect of the alcohol. I 
have never found this method very practicable ; and I 
assure my readers that in the method I have described, 
less time is taken up and a much finer effect obtained. 
It is also much more certain of success, and leaves the 
spectators absolutely in the dark as to the method em- 

I have frequently performed these readings in audi- 
ences where are persons who have seen me perform 
them before ; and in such cases they invariably inform 
me that they are more mystified than they were in the 
first place. 


The secrets of the remaining experiments, so far as 
I know, have never been given to the public. The 
principle that is used in the production of each of them 
is entirely different; therefore, if a spectator should 
ever surmise the principle used in one of them, the 
moment he should try to explain the others by it, he 
would see that it would not work ; and he would con- 
clude that he was entirely wrong. 

And now in regard to the principle which I use in 
reading the writing of Lady Number One, I am sorry 
to say I must here disappoint my reader. I am under 
a promise to the dealer not to reveal this secret and 
can not do so. Those who desire to use it, however, 
can obtain it from George L. Williams & Co., 7145 
Champlain Ave., Chicago, 111. I regard this as one of 
the best tricks extant, and regret my inability to give 
its secret to my readers. 

After the preparation of the writing for Lady Num- 
ber One, I immediately go ahead with the preparation 
of the writing for Lady Number Two. I will now 
give the secret of this reading as completely as my 
promise permits me to do. 

In this experiment the secret lies in getting an im- 
pression of the writing, but not a carbon impression. 
This impression can not be seen by the eye at all, but 
has to be "developed" afterwards. This is really a 
very fine idea and was originally intended for pro- 
fessional mediums to use in tests with their subjects 
at private sittings. The tablet is apparently unpre- 
pared and would stand the most thorough inspection, 
yet there is a preparation. 

I will first describe the preparation of the tablet, and 


then I will describe how I obtain possession of it and 
how I develop the writing. 

I use for this experiment a finely finished and highly 
glazed paper. I take one sheet of it and prepare one 
side of it by rubbing it over thoroughly with a material 
common enough to be within every one's reach; but 
the vendor of tricks might deem it a violation of my 
promise if I were to give its name, although the secret 
to this part of the trick has been well known for some 
time, and has even been published. It leaves a per- 
fectly smooth surface. Only one in the secret could 
discover that there is a preparation. Even I am fre- 
quently puzzled to tell which is the prepared side, and 
can only do so by holding it so that the light strikes 
it at the proper angle. 

This sheet is now to be placed on the tablet, prepared 
side down ; but, before doing so, I first touch the two 
corners of the two top sheets of paper on the tablet 
with library paste. I do this so that they will adhere 
to each other a trifle, as this prevents the lady from 
tearing off by accident the sheet which bears the 
record, when afterwards she tears off the prepared 
sheet bearing her question. 

I now place the prepared sheet in position, prepared 
side down, and paste the top in position with white 
library paste. However, I allow this sheet to protrude 
at the bottom about one-thirty-second of an inch. This 
is to make it so easy for the lady to get hold of it, 
that she will be in no danger of tearing off more than 
the one. Of course, when she writes, the writing is 
transferred to the second sheet, but it is entirely in- 

After she has written, I direct her to lay the tablet 
on a table which is convenient; and it apparently lies 


there throughout the evening. This is the point where 
I begin the preparation of the writing of the states- 
man's name, immediately thereafter giving the first 
two readings. I only after the -first tzuo readings ob- 
tain possession of this tablet and develop the writing. 

I do it in this manner. I bring forward two slates, 
which I shall soon use in the slate writing experiment, 
and leave them on the center table in the front parlor. 
Under one is a duplicate tablet, which I also leave on 
the table, unnoticed by the spectators. I remove the 
slates used in the dictionary trick, carrying away under 
one of them the original tablet. Meanwhile, the spec- 
tators are deeply engaged in a discussion of the two 
readings I have just given them ; and I inform Lady 
Number Two that I will read her question a little 
later, and for her to keep it in her possession until I 
have done so. 

I now go to other apartments for a few moments to 
develop the record. I use for a holder for the sheet 
of paper while working with it, the frame of a slate 
of proper size with the slate portion removed. I fasten 
the sheet in position on this frame with a couple of 
pins, using care to keep the side with the record on it 
upwards; because if it gets turned over, I can in no 
way discover the fact until it is too late. 

The writing may be developed in several ways; the 
best way and the one I generally use, I can not reveal 
on account of my promise of secrecy to the firm before 
referred to. I will, however, give a method which is 
well known to many mediums, and which has been 
used by them for a number of years. 

I merely dust a little powdered plumbago, or a little 
lampblack on to the sheet of paper, shake it around 
and then turn it over a vessel and dust it off by strik- 


ing the paper very lightly with my finger nail. The 
writing will appear on the sheet plainly and may be 
read. The method furnished by the above named 
firm, however, is much superior to this method. 

I quickly memorize the question ; and on a slate 
close at hand, where I have a message already pre- 
pared, I sign the name of the dead person. This slate 
is an exact duplicate in appearance, of the two slates 
which were left on the table in the front parlor. 

I now proceed to prepare the Spirit Slate experi- 
ment, and give the final reading; but before describ- 
ing this, which is one of the finest slate tricks of which 
I know, I will give a little additional information re- 
lating to the last reading experiment. 

I was told to use a tablet with every sheet prepared, 
but I first prepared only every alternate sheet and left 
the rest unprepared. This worked nicely ; but as soon 
as the tablet was used a few times, I found that all 
the questions that had previously been written on the 
tablet were copied for several sheets down. This 
caused so many words to appear, that I was com- 
pelled to discard all prepared sheets, excepting one, 
as I have above described. A tablet could be prepared 
with two prepared sheets on top and an unprepared 
sheet between them. There would then be two im- 
pressions on unprepared sheets in the tablet, but it 
would be necessary to discard all these top sheets after 
each reading. 

This trick, however, was originally intended for the 
use of professional mediums at private sittings with 
a single person. In such cases, after the sitter has 
written and sealed his question, he is directed to pro- 
ceed to the mantel and clean and examine some slates. 
While he is doing so, the medium takes the tablet from 


the table and places the same quickly in a large pocket 
on the inside of his coat, taking therefrom and leav- 
ing on the table a duplicate. He then advances to the 
sitter and begins a lecture, when his doorbell rings. 
As his servant fails to answer the bell the medium 
excuses himself for a moment, and attends to the 
matter himself, engaging in a discussion with the 
servant while out, for not properly attending to the 
door. This he does within hearing of the sitter. 
Meanwhile he is rapidly developing and reading the 

This method I never liked, as it requires the assist- 
ance of another person. I much prefer the method 
I have outlined. 

* * * 

And now for the Spirit Slate Message. I use three 
slates, but the spectators never see more than two of 
them at one time. I make an exchange of one of the 
slates, unknown to the sitter or spectators. The table 
is an ordinary one, and I do not conceal the prepared 
slate on the person. The secret lies in the chair I sit 
on. The slate is concealed under the seat on a shelf. 
Just above this shelf is another shelf onto which I 
slip the unprepared slate when I make the exchange. 
These shelves can not be seen as the chair is one of the 
variety known as "box seat." One of the sides, the 
right one, can be raised up to admit the hand to the 
shelves. This side is hung on hinges at the top, but 
they can not be seen. 

I prepare the chair as follows: I get a nicely fin- 
ished, box seat, oak, dining chair. I remove the cane 
seat and replace it with a beautiful leather cobbler 
seat. This renders what is underneath invisible. I 
now, with a fine-tooth saw, neatly saw the ends of 


the box strip underneath the right side of the seat, 
where they enter the legs of the chair. I remove this 
strip, which is some two inches wide. It is too thick ; 
so with a saw I spHt the piece lengthwise, from end 
to end, so as to leave it only about one-half inch thick. 
It remains, of course, full two inches wide, and I am 
careful not to mar the finish. 

I hinge it back in place with three small hinges, at 
its top, so that I can raise and lower it like a trap door 
while sitting on the chair. By screwing the hinges 
on a mere trifle out of line, the strip will move stiffly, 
and will remain in any position in which it may be 
left. I now place two, thin padded shelves under the 
seat, one above the other. These are concealed when 
the side piece is down, but when it is up they are of 
course visible and the right hand can easily reach them. 
As the strip is now so thin it offers no obstruction 
when up, to getting at the shelves and making the ex- 
change of slates. 

I have this chair in the room adjoining the back par- 
lor. As soon as I have developed and read Lady 
Number Two's writing, I sign the message as stated 
before, and slip this prepared slate onto the bottom 
shelf of the chair, message side up. I lower the side 
piece and all is ready. 

I next place an ordinary table sidewise to the spec- 
tators, but just inside the back parlor. There is a 
cover on this table which hangs down some six inches 
on the side next to the audience, and somewhat less on 
my side. I place the prepared chair with its right side 
towards the table, at the side of the table away from 
the spectators. I have in the front parlor another 
chair just like mine, except it is unprepared. I place 
this chair for the lady with its left side towards the 


table, and at the side of the table which faces the spec- 

I place on this table the two slates which I have pre- 
viously placed on the table in the front parlor. I ask 
Lady Number Two to be seated at this table. This 
effectually conceals from her view and from the spec- 
tators, the portion of my person and the prepared chair 
that are below the table top. We thus both sit sidewise 
to the table, and face the same direction. I ask her 
to clean the slates ; and just as she is finishing the 
second slate, I take the first one in my right hand and 
apparently place it under the table. 

Now I have just raised the trap of the chair while 
she was cleaning the first slate; so, as I bring this 
slate below the table top, I slip it on the top shelf of 
the chair silently, quickly drawing out the prepared 
slate in its place, and lowering the side piece of the 
chair. I immediately bring the prepared slate up 
under the table, requesting her at the same time to 
place her slate under the table with her right hand. 
Upon her doing so, I immediately ask her to take her 
other hand and hold my slate also. I instantly with- 
draw my right hand. This all requires but a moment 
and she has soon forgotten that I placed one of the 
slates under the table. 

Sometimes I take a small slate pencil and quickly 
place it on the slates, instantly withdrawing my hand. 
I now place my hands on the table top, and gradually 
turn, facing the table. I call on the spectators to come 
forward and watch the experiment, and the trick is 
practically done. 

At the proper time I direct the lady to bring out the 
slates, which she does, producing the message. After 
the effect of this is over, I mentally read her question 


on the slip of concealed paper; then I direct her to 
produce the envelope, open it and verify all. After 
this I bring forward the crystal globe and answer 
the questions as before described. 

After all is completed, I take the cover off the table 
and turn it over to the view of the spectators, that they 
may see that there is no trickery, but that the table is 
an ordinary one. I also offer my person for exami- 
nation that they may be convinced that nothing is con- 
cealed about me. I have never yet had any one suspect 
the innocent looking chair. 

I have performed many experiments in magic and 
sleight-of-hand, and T have seen the best work of this 
class in the country ; and I can conscientiously assure 
the readers of this work that I have never seen one 
experiment of this class, the effect of which could in 
any way begin to compare with the effect of the ex- 
periments I have just described. This is especially 
true among the more intelligent class of persons, who 
may regard the very best work in magic as but the re- 
sult of practice; but who insist on regarding this as 
something else ; as something at least bordering on the 
occult, and as something very rare. 


I HAVE decided to give to my readers a description 
and explanation of a few of the best slate-writing 
feats and billest tests that are being performed by 
mediums and conjurors of the present day. I will 
make no attempt at explaining a complete list of the 
many tricks of the kind, for should I do so it would 
require a large volume to contain it all. 

There are certain dealers who supply secrets of this 
kind to mediums and others desiring them, at what 
may be considered by some as a very high price. There 
are also books on the subject describing many such 
feats; but those that are really the best, have been 
pretty generally kept out of the books on the subject. 
Some can only be secured from the dealers, while 
some have been guarded by certain mediums so closely 
that I do not think the dealers have obtained the 
secrets yet. 

The tricks to which I shall devote the most attention 
are the ones used by such mediums, and certain ones 
supplied by dealers, these being the ones I regard as 
the best and most deceptive of the kind. 

The reader must understand that the most essential 
part of any trick is the psychological part. This con- 


sists in the operator absolutely controlling the sub- 
ject's attention. This is termed, in the parlance of the 
profession, " misdirection." A thorough master of 
the art of misdirection has his subject entirely at his 
mercy. The subject sees only what the operator de- 
sires him to see, even though much of that which is 
hidden is performed before his very eyes. 

I do not mean to convey the idea that the operator 
employs a power anything like hypnotism, but merely 
that he is an actor ; that he directs the attention of the 
subject entirely by skilfully directing his own eyes, 
his own gestures, and his own attention, to the point 
where he desires the attention of his subject to be 
directed. Wherever the operator looks and points, 
there will the subject most certainly look if he be 
interested. It is possible then for the performer to 
execute with the other hand any maneuver he desires, 
entirely unseen by the subject ; but he must in no way 
look at such action himself, or he will be instantly dis- 

A magician once remarked to me, *Tf I can only 
get your attention intently, an elephant can pass be- 
hind me and you will not see it." This may have 
been a little strong, but not so much so as one who is 
not himself a perfomer might suppose. The attention 
is like the field of vision, — it can only be concentrated 
on one thing at a time. 

If any one reports a slate-writing, where he took his 
own slates, did not let them go out of his hands, and 
allowed no one to touch them in any manner, he is 
surely mistaken if truthful. There has been some- 
thing which occurred, and which he does not relate, 
for the simple fact that it escaped his attention at the 
time — something that to him seemed a mere incident, 


a little thing, an accident, or that he did not perceive 
at all ; but that was really the vital point, as it con- 
cealed the trick. This is the verdict of all the reliable 
conjurers who have ever investigated the subject. 

Conjurers are always looking for things of this 
kind; and if they hear of such a trick, immediately 
manage to see it if possible. They always see it with 
different eyes, than do other persons. This is simply 
because they are fitted by education to detect a trick. 
A conjurer is a specialist who is fitted to detect trick- 

We hear many tales of marvelous slate tricks, but 
can never find them. They are something like the 
wonderful stories we hear about "Indian Magic." We 
receive the latter at second or third hand, and far from 
the scenes where they occurred. When one of our 
magicians makes a journey to that country to see 
these things, he can not find them. He can only find 
a number of tricks that are really inferior to the tricks 
of our own performers at home. There is one little 
difference, however, and that is the setting given these 
tricks by the pretenses of the performer. In our coun- 
try, the performer, unless he be a professional medium, 
claims only that it is trickery; while in that country, 
as a rule, the spectators are allowed to believe the 
prformance genuine. This greatly enhances the effect 
of any trick. 

Slate tricks, where the performer appears not to 
touch the slates, are by no means the best or most 
certain of success; but a good performer must be 
able to perform all kinds and to adjust himself to the 
conditions with which he is confronted. 

I personally perform most of the tricks I am going 
to describe, and I assure the reader that the explana- 


tions are given very accurately ; so that the reader can, 
if he so desire, reproduce the experiments. All the 
tricks given are thoroughly practicable, and can be 
successfully performed with a little practice. 

In justice to myself I wish to state that I have al- 
ways used these experiments for purposes of enter- 
tainment or instruction, and that I have never imposed 
on the credulity of any of my spectators. I have never 
laid any claims to mediumistic powers, but have al- 
ways acknowledged that the experiments were pure 

The reader must remember that when a trick is ex- 
plained it immediately becomes commonplace, and that 
it is only the mystery of good tricks that lends a charm 
to them. To properly appreciate a good trick, one 
should by all means see it performed before reading 
the explanation, if it be possible to do so. When the 
explanation is read without seeing the trick performed, 
it is rarely held at its true value in the reader's estima- 
tion. I assure the reader that the tricks which follow 
appear very mysterious, and that they are the best of 
their kind in existence. The reader has only to give 
a few of them a careful trial to be convinced of this 

I would advise any one who desires to thoroughly 
understand these tricks, to read the explanation care- 
fully, and to form a good mental picture of all the 
details of the performance. 


I will first describe a very excellent slate trick wnich 
is being worked most successfully by a few profes- 
sional mediums of the present day. This is performed 
with a number, usually eight, bound slates, of the size 


five by seven, and one large slate, size eight by eleven 
inches inside measure. This trick is very easy to per- 
form and very deceptive. Any reader of this article 
can perform it successfully with a very few trials. 

I generally have the subject take a seat near a small 
table, and I remain standing at his left side while I 
perform the trick. I first step to an adjoining room 
as soon as the spectator is seated and get the slates. 
I come forward with the slates arranged as follows: 
in my left hand and partly resting on my wrist and 
arm is the large slate with the small ones on top of it. 

I present the top small slate to the subject for in- 
spection and cleaning, if he so desire. When he is 
through with it, I take it in my right hand and place 
it on the table directly in front of him. I repeat this 
with each of the remaining small slates, placing each 
one inspected on top of the others, thus forming a 
stack. I do not even up the edges of the slates, but 
leave the stack in a rough and unsymmetrical form. 
When the last small slate is in position, I bring the 
large slate in front of the subject, and giving him a 
pencil, request him to zwife on the large slate his name 
and the date of his birth. If he desires to examine the 
large slate before writing this, I allow him to do so. 
As soon as he has done the writing, I place the large 
slate in his lap and request him to hold it by the ends. 
I then take a large rubber band and snap it around the 
stack of small slates, after evening up the edges. I 
now place this stack of small slates in his lap on the 
large slate, and request him to place his palms on it. 

After sufficient time has elapsed, I request him to 
examine the slates for a message. When he does so 
he finds a long "spirit" message written on one of the 
small slates, completely covering one side of it. The 


message is written with a soapstone pencil, and ap- 
pears bright, and heavily written. It is addressed to 
him by name, and is frequently signed by the name of 
some departed friend whom I do not know. 

This effect is secured by a very simple means. I use 
nine small slates instead of eight. I prepare the mes- 
sage in advance and sign it. The slate containing this 
message is underneath the large slate when I come 
forward with the slates. As I take my position at the 
left side of the spectator, and tilt the slates slightly 
towards him, the message slate can not be seen. 

The subject naturally supposes that all of the small 
slates are on top of the large one; and when he has 
examined all of the small slates in view, and I have 
stacked them in front of him, he never dreams that 
under the large slate in my left hand is another small 
slate which he can not see. 

I now bring this large slate into position right over 
the stack for an instant, with its front edge tilted 
downward and resting on the stack. I allow the small 
bound slate under the large one silently to drop upon 
the stack, and at the same time I take his attention by 
giving him a pencil with my right hand and requesting 
him to write on the large slate. I say, "Write your 
name, etc., right there," pointing with my right fingers 
to the center of the large slate. This takes his atten- 
tion so that he does not notice the fact that the large 
slate pauses over the stack of small slates for a mo- 
ment. In fact this is done in a natural manner, as if 
I were merely holding the large slate in that position 
to show him where to write, and he thinks nothing 
of it. 

When the large slate is removed and placed in his 
lap, he does not notice that there is now one more 


slate in the stack, for the reason that where so many 
slates are used the addition of an extra one can not 
be noticed unless the subject first count the slates. Of 
course counting is never mentioned. The small slate 
with the message on it has the message side down- 
wards, so that the message can not be seen after it is 
dropped on the stack. 

I always keep the slates in my left hand until they 
are inspected and stacked on the table, for the reason 
that if the slates be laid on the table the small one 
under the large one will make its presence known by 
preventing the large slate from touching the table. I 
allow the slates partly to rest on my arm until the 
weight is reduced so I can hold them in the hand, 
at which time I hold those which remain, in the left 
hand only. This enables me to press the concealed 
slate tightly against the lower side of the large slate. 

As soon as the large slate is placed on the sitter's 
lap, I up-edge the stack of small slates so as to even 
them up. I take from the table a large rubber band 
and snap it around the stack. As the stack is on the 
side edges of the slates when I first up-edge them, I 
next bring them upon the end edges, while I put the 
band in place. It is now easy to place the stack of 
slates upon the large slate message slate down, and to 
attract no notice to this fact. This is because the po- 
sition has been changed a time or so in placing the 
band on ; and I then take the stack in my hands by the 
edges of the slates, and simply place what was the top 
side of the stack in the beginning, at the bottom. This 
way the spectator never suspects that the stack has 
been turned over ; and when he does find his message, 
he finds it on the bottom slate, and on its upper surface, 
which greatly heightens the effect. His memory is 


especially good about cleaning the bottom slate, and 
also about the upper surfaces of the slates being free 
from writing; as he could sec them all on the upper 
surface as the stack was formed. The message thus 
appears as if it had come by magic, or some super- 
human power. 

The secret of success with this trick is perfect self- 
assurance. The operator must not act timid, but must 
perform the experiment himself and direct the sitter 
what to do. He thus makes his own conditions and 
must never act in any way backward or embarrassed, 
but perfectly at home in the performance of the ex- 

The means by which I obtain the name of the de- 
ceased friend of the spectator may be one of several, 
some of which I will describe further on. 

There are a number of tricks performed where a 
stack of slates is used and an extra slate adroitly added 
to it, or else one of them exchanged for another. 

There is also an improved form of this trick which 
I use. It is very superior and I vvall give it a little 
later. It requires a little more skill at one point, and 
also requires a knowledge of certain moves which I 
give in the trick described in Number IV of this chap- 
ter. In Number V, I will again refer to this trick, and 
give the improved method ; as the reader will then have 
mastered the moves required for its production. 

* * ik 

There is also another trick with a stack of slates 
which is very effective. In this trick no large slate is 
used. The message is prepared in advance on a small 
slate, and this slate is concealed on the floor under the 
end of a small rug behind the table. As the spectator 
cleans each slate, the operator takes it and places it 


on the rug directly over the concealed slate. When all 
of the slates are cleaned, the operator picks up the 
stack from the floor ; and secretly inserting his fingers 
under the concealed slate beneath the rug, he draws it 
out and picks it up with the other slates. 

The move is made so that it appears as if the opera- 
tor merely picks up the slates on top of the rug, and 
the subject never suspects that a concealed one is 
drawn at the same time from under the rug. This 
concealed slate has the message side upwards, and the 
stack of slates are now evened up and laid on the chair ; 
where, after holding the palms on them for a time, the 
subject examines them and finds the message. 

Sometimes when I perform this trick I have the mes- 
sage slate on a table under a newspaper. When we 
take our seats at the table I remove the newspaper out 
of my way and lay it on the floor, a chair, or another 
table. I then lay the slates on the table to be cleaned. 
Of course I secretly remove the concealed slate under 
the newspaper when I remove it, and lay both on the 
floor, chair, or table. 

As the spectator cleans the slates I stack them on 
this newspaper, and when I pick up the cleaned 
slates, I draw out the message slate as in the pre- 
ceding trick. 


One other variation of the last trick is being worked 
at the present time by a very noted medium. The 
slates are placed in a stack on a small table directly 
in front of the sitter. He is requested to clean them 
one at a time. As he does so the operator, who stands 
at his left, takes the slates in his left hand, and stacks 
them on the left corner of the table. 


There is a mantel just back of the operator and his 
subject, on which Hes concealed behind some object 
a duplicate slate with a message on its under side. 
As soon as the fourth or fifth slate is cleaned and in 
place on the stack, the performer, who stands some- 
what behind the subject, secretly takes the slate from 
the mantel with his right hand. Just as the sitter 
finishes cleaning the next slate the performer takes it 
from him with his left hand; but just before placing 
it on the stack he makes a pass, leaving this slate in 
his right hand and carrying away from his right hand 
the message slate. This pass can be executed instantly 
and is immediately followed by placing the message 
slate on the stack, message side down, with the left 
hand ; while at the same instant the right hand returns 
the slate the sitter has just cleaned to the position on 
the mantel. 

As soon as the stack is formed the medium up-edges 
the slates, evens them up, and slips a rubber band 
around them giving them into the sitter's lap to be 
held. The stack is turned as in the preceding tricks, 
and the effect on finding the message is just as great. 

In regard to making the pass with the slates, the 
operator should partly face towards the sitter's chair 
and stand at the left side of the sitter, so that his right 
hand is far enough back to be out of the angle of 
vision of the sitter. The slates should be taken with 
the left hand and placed on the stack at the left. When 
the exchange is made, the left hand, on taking the slate 
from the subject, should move for the merest instant 
back of the range of his vision, meeting the right hand 
and making the exchange. It should do this and zvith- 
out pause place the message slate on the stack. The 
whole move should take but a fraction of a second. 


using about the same length of time that is used in 
placing the other slates in position. Some remark 
about the next slate to be cleaned, just at this instant, 
helps to divert the sitter's attention and make the ex- 
change more indetectable. 

I will now describe how to make the "switch" as 
well as I can without drawings, and any reader wish- 
ing to try these tricks should master this move thor- 
oughly. It is used in the next trick which I am go- 
ing to describe, and which is one of the very best of 
slate tricks. 

The move is made in this manner: The slate in the 
left hand is taken between the thumb and index finger, 
and rests in a horizontal position on the side of the 
finger facing the thumb. The remaining fingers of the 
left hand do not touch the slate, but are below the in- 
dex finger; so that they as well as the hand, form a 
right angle with the surface of the slate. The middle 
finger is spread apart from the index finger, thus form- 
ing with it an opening into which the slate from the 
right hand is to be slipped. The slate taken in the 
right hand is also taken in a similar position ; but just 
the instant before making the pass, I always bring the 
index finger on top of the slate and hold the slate 
pressed between the index finger and the middle or 
large finger. I keep the right thumb elevated, or 
separated from the index finger, and bring the two 
hands together, passing the slate in the right hand be- 
low the slate in the left hand until the latter is directly 
over the former. The slate from the right hand enters 
between the index and second fingers of the left hand, 
which should immediately grasp it tightly; and the 


fingers of the right hand holding it should at the same 
time release their grasp on it. 

The index finger of the right hand passes below the 
slate in the left hand when the above maneuver is 
made, and the right thumb passes over this slate. 
These should instantly grasp the left-hand . slate while 
the left thumb and index finger release it. The hands 
should be instantly separated, the right now carrying 
away the slate held before in the left hand, and the 
left hand carrying away the slate held in the right 
hand. This move does not require over a tenth of a 
second and is very simple and easy to execute, if one 
will but try it. Without figures it requires some little 
description, but it is very simple nevertheless. 

If any reader of this work will take two small 
padded slates and try this move for five minutes, con- 
stantly passing the slates from one hand to the other 
and back again, the "switch" can be made many times 
a minute; and in five minutes' practice the hands will 
do the work almost by reflex action, without looking at 
them at all, and the reader will then be able to execute 
the next trick which I will now describe. 


This trick depends upon the "switch" of slates de- 
scribed above. I tell my subject to take a seat near 
a small table, and meanwhile I have two slates in my 
hands as above described. The message is already 
prepared on the under side of the slate held in the left 

The message is written in such a manner that the 
left index finger does not erase it while holding the 
slate. I carelessly hand the spectator the slate in my 
right hand, with the request that he "examine this 


slate on both sides." I do not tell him what I intend 
doing in any manner ; and although I hold the other 
slate in my left hand, I say nothing about intending to 
use it. I merely say to him, ''Examine this slate, will 
you please?" Just at the instant that he is through 
with it, I take it from him with my right hand ; and 
at that very instant I remark, "I must use a chair in 
this experiment." At the same time I direct my gaze 
to a chair on my right that is slightly out of reach, and 
say, "I will use that." The subject can not help glan- 
cing at the chair as I say this, and at that very instant 
the "switch" is made. I instantly hand him the slate in 
my left hand before getting the chair, saying, "ex- 
amine that slate also." As I say this I lay the slate in 
my right hand on the table in front of but some dis- 
tance away from him. This slate was the one before 
held by my left hand and the message is on its under 
surface. The slate the subject is examining is the same 
one he examined in the first place. 

I quickly get the chair, keeping my eye on the sub- 
ject to see that he gives his attention to the slate in 
his hands ; and instantly taking my seat opposite him, 
I quickly take the slate from him, saying, "I will now 
place this slate on top of this one." As I say this I 
lower his slate over the one on the table, and place 
my palms on my end of them requesting him to do 
the same at his end of them. All of this, which takes 
so long to describe, does not require a half minute to 

After a time I lift oiif the top slate and look for a 
message between them. I do not turn the top slate 
over, although there is nothing on its lower side ; but 
I merely look on the upper surface of the lower slate. 
As I do this I have the top slate in my right hand by 


its right edge, and I have picked up the other by its 
left edge with my left hand, and raised it about an inch 
from the table. As I remark, 'There is nothing on 
that slate," I bring the two slates again together. But 
this time I bring the slate in my right hand under the 
one in my left hand. 

It is merely passed under it as I bring the hands to- 
gether and this fact is not noticed by the spectator. In 
fact in the first place as I lift off the top slate with my 
right hand, my left grasps the lower slate so soon 
after the right hand grasps the top slate that the top 
slate is not more than an inch removed to the right, 
before the left hand has the lower slate and the two 
are separated ; that is, the left hand moves to the left 
as much as the right hand does to the right, and neither 
hand is lifted more than an inch or two from the 

I remark, "There is nothing on that slate," instantly 
passing the right slate under and the left slate over, 
bringing the hands together. If the move be made as 
just described, the subject will never notice that the 
slate that was the top one in the first place, is now the 
bottom one, and vice versa. 

We replace the palms and wait a few moments, 
when again I separate the slates exactly as I did in the 
first place. The message is now on the under side of 
the upper slate, and can not be seen as I do not turn 
this slate over. I make the remark, "No message yet," 
as if surprised and dissatisfied ; and I bring the two 
hands together again as in the first instance, except 
that this time / leave the message slate on top. 

I do not place the slates on the table fiat ; but up- 
edge them instead, and pinch them tightly together 
with my left fingers ; while with my right hand I take 


from my right vest pocket a small piece of slate pencil. 
I remark, ''Perhaps if we had a pencil we would get 
something; and separating the slates the slightest bit 
at the top with my left hand, I drop the piece of 
pencil between them with my right hand, quickly clos- 
ing the slight opening. 

I now lay the slates flat on the table; but this time 
I lay them so that they are turned over, or so that the 
message slate is nozv underneath with the message on 
its upper surface. We instantly replace our palms on 
the upper slate. Now all of this maneuvering has been 
for the purpose of bringing the message slate to the 
bottom, message side upzmrds; and also for showing 
the sitter the upper surface of the lower slate repeat- 
edly, and always free from writing. This greatly en- 
hances the after effect of the trick. I, of course, do 
not tell him why I am thus maneuvering; in fact, he 
does not know I am maneuvering, and afterwards 
merely remembers my separating the slates and look- 
ing on the upper surface of the lower one repeatedly, 
but finding nothing. As a result, when next we look 
at the slates, he is deeply impressed on finding a mes- 
sage where but an instant before there was none. I 
do not separate the slates this time myself, but merely 
remove my palms and ask him to examine them. 

A subject's memory is so poor at recalling little 
details, that all he can remember afterwards is that he 
examined both of the slates, that they never left his 
sight, and that he repeatedly looked at them and saw 
no message ; that finally, on separating them, he found 
a message where but an instant before there was none. 

The reader at first sight might not give to all this 
maneuvering the proper importance, and might con- 
sider the trick performed when the slates are first 


examined and placed on the table ; but I will say that 
this subsequent maneuvering is what makes this trick 
the superb effect which it is, and makes it really one 
of the best slate tricks for a single spectator. 

The reader will please remember the moves just 
described which I execute after the exchange of the 
slates, and after I lay the slates on the table one on 
top of the other. These moves are the closing part 
of the trick which I will next describe, and which I 
made mention of in Number II of this chapter. 

I will now refer the reader to the trick described in 
Number II wherein one large and nine small slates are 
used. In this trick I use the same slates but the modus 
operandi is somewhat changed. 

I do not enter with the eight small slates on top of 
the large slate as in the trick described in Number II ; 
but I have the slates arranged after the following 
manner: The nine small slates are stacked one on the 
other, with the message slate on top, message side 
down. On top of this stack is the large slate. 

I enter with these and place them on the table di- 
rectly in front of the sitter. I stand at his left and 
with my left hand I remove the large slate from the 
stack, carrying under it secretly the top small slate. 
This small slate bears the message ; so I tilt the top 
surface of the large slate towards the spectator so as 
to prevent his seeing the concealed slate, which my 
left fingers press tightly against the far side of the 
large slate. With my right hand I now give the sitter 
the stack of eight small slates, telling him to place them 
in his lap, clean them one at a time, and stack them on 
the table in front of himself. 


As I thus direct him, my left hand still holds the 
large slate a few inches above the table top and a few 
inches farther from the subject than the position where 
I first placed the slates. I now state that while he 
cleans his slates, I will write on the large slate any 
mental impression which I may receive. I allow the 
lower edge of the large slate to rest on the table, and 
taking a pencil in my right hand I proceed to write 
some name. I try to write one that the sitter will 
recognize ; but if unable to do so, it makes no differ- 
ence. Meanwhile, I see to it that, while I am writing, 
the sitter continues to clean and stack the slates in 
front of himself. 

I time my writing so as to finish the name just as 
he cleans and stacks the fourth slate. At this instant 
I bring the large slate directly in front of him (and 
right over the stack he is forming), and pointing to 
the name I have written I say: "Do you recognize 
that name ?" This takes his attention ; and at that in- 
stant I allow the concealed message slate behind the 
large one to secretly drop upon the stack from under 
the large slate. The large slate is resting with its 
forward edge on the front edge of the stack, and its 
rear edge elevated some thirty degrees, when I exe- 
cute this maneuver. 

The subject proceeds to read the name; and if he 
happens to recognize it, I give him a verbal reading 
while he continues to clean and stack the remaining 
slates. If he does not recognize the name, I instruct 
him to go ahead ; as my "impressions do not seem to 
come readily, owing to improper conditions." 

Just as he stacks the last slate, I take the stack in 
my hands like a pack of cards and spread them out 
quickly, fan- wise, just as a person playing cards does 


the cards which he holds. I, however, keep them in 
a horizontal position near the table. 

Now, if the message slate be the fifth one down from 
the top, I allow the fourth one to remain on top of it 
in such position that the edges of the two slates coin- 
cide. All of the slates are spread except these two, 
which accidentally ( ?) remain as if fastened together. 
I now with my fingers secretly push these two for- 
ward a good inch in advance of the other slates, and 
direct the sitter to "take two of these slates." As he 
starts to obey, I push these two right into his hands ; 
and just as he draws them out, I remark, **Any two 
that you wish." I really "force" these two slates, just 
as a magician "forces" the selection of a desired card. 

As the subject draws the two slates, I instantly tell 
him to lay them on the table, which he does. The 
message is on the under side of the lower slate, and 
I see to it that they are not turned over. I now close 
the trick with the same maneuvers I use in closing the 
foregoing trick which I described in the last number. 
The effect is beyond description ; as the sitter thinks 
he has just cleaned all of the small slates, and that he 
of his own free will chooses two of them at random ; 
that of these two, we repeatedly look on the upper sur- 
face of the lower one for a message, finding none ; 
and then, suddenly, without these slates leaving his 
sight, he finds a message on the upper surface of the 
lower slate. 

I know a medium who produces a message in this 
manner, which appears to be written with a gold 
ring worn by the sitter. The message is prepared in 
advance by rubbing a sheet of paper with sperma- 
ceti wax or paraf^n. When the sheet is coated thor- 
oughly, it is laid on a slate, prepared side down. The 


message is now written on this sheet of paper. The 
pencil passing over the paper causes the message to be 
transferred to the slate in wax writing. The medium 
now dusts bronze powder over the slate, shakes it 
around and dusts it off. The powder adheres to the 
wax, and the remainder of the slate is cleaned care- 
fully of all loose powder. 

With the slate thus prepared, the performer pro- 
ceeds with the trick as described in this number ; except 
instead of dropping a piece of pencil between the two 
slates, he asks for the plain gold ring of the sitter, and 
drops it between them. The message appears rather 
dimly, written in gold, as if it had been traced by the 
ring. This trick always makes a great impression on 
a subject. 


I will here describe a means of secretly reading a 
question written on a slate by a sitter. The performer 
uses a stack of nine small slates with one large one on 
top of them as in the preceding slate trick. The slates 
are brought in and placed on a low table in front of 
the sitter, and the operator takes his seat opposite him 
at the table. 

The operator now takes up the large slate from the 
stack and secretly takes a small slate underneath it, as 
in the slate-writing trick. He keeps the small slate 
on the side of the large one next to himself. There 
is no message on any of the slates and they are all 
perfectly clean. The operator begins figuring in small 
figures, or hieroglyphics, on the upper portion of the 
large slate. This is a mere excuse for taking up the 
large slate. 

As he does this he requests the sitter to take a small 


slate and write thereon such questions as he may de- 
sire answered and to sig:n his own name thereto. This 
the sitter does ; and as he faces the operator and holds 
the slate in front of his face, vertically, the operator 
can not see his writing. While the subject writes his 
questions, the operator takes the stack of small slates 
with his right hand and places them in his lap. As 
he does this he retains the large slate in his other hand 
with the concealed small slate behind it. 

When the subject has finished his writing, the ope- 
rator directs him to place his slate face downzuard on 
the table. This he does. The operator now asks, 
"What was your birth month, please?" or some similar 
question, and appears to make some kind of a mark on 
his large slate. He then, with his other hand, takes 
the slate on the table which contains the questions on 
its lower side, and places it face downward on the stack 
in his lap without in any way looking at it. He now 
places the large slate on the stack, and places his palms 
on it for a moment while he gives a few verbal impres- 
sions to the sitter. 

He now takes up the large top slate in one hand, 
but does not this time carry up a concealed slate behind 
it. The subject naturally supposes that the top slate 
of the small ones is the one bearing the questions ; but 
it is not, for the reason that when the operator placed 
the large slate on the stack just after placing the ques- 
tion slate on it, he of course placed the concealed small 
slate on the stack at the same time. The question slate 
is therefore the second slate from the top instead of 
the top one. 

The operator now lifts off the top small slate face 
dozvnzvards with the other hand, and places it on the 
table without looking at its under surface. The sub- 


ject supposes that his questions are on its under sur- 
face, but they are instead on the under surface of the 
top small slate left on the stack. 

The operator now places over the slate on the table 
a newspaper which is at hand, at the same time laying 
down on the stack in his lap the large slate in his other 
hand. He now requests the sitter to place his hand on 
top of the newspaper which rests on the slate that he 
supposes bears his questions. The operator requests 
him to close his hand tightly and allow his fist to rest 
on the paper as "this makes the magnetism better." 
This prevents the subject from lifting up the slate and 
examining it, which sometimes happens if such pre- 
cautions be not taken. 

The operator now takes up the large slate again 
from the stack in his lap and appears to again figure 
in its top corner. He, of course, secretly carries up 
behind it the slate with the subject's questions on it. 
While appearing to figure, he quickly reads and mem- 
orizes these questions and names. He now asks the 
subject to remove his hand, and he quickly takes the 
small slate under the paper on the table and replaces 
it on the stack, at the same time placing the large slate 
in his other hand on top of it. This secretly places the 
question slate on top of all the small slates, just as it 
should be, and as the subject has supposed it to be all 
of the time. 

The operator now asks some other question of the 
sitter, as, "What star were you born under ?" or some- 
thing of the kind and makes a few hieroglyphics on 
the large slate ; and then he places the entire stack on 
the table, requesting the sitter to clean the slates. The 
sitter does so, and of course finds his questions on the 
under surface of the upper small slate as it should be. 


The Operator requests the subject not to let him see 
the writing, and now proceeds with the reading. He 
can give a fine verbal reading with the information 
he now possesses, or he can produce a message as I 
have before described wherein a stack of slates is used 
and the message written in the subject's presence. 

It is thus easy for an expert performer to sit down 
to a table and have the subject write his questions in 
the operator's presence, to write the answers in the 
sitter's presence, to do all before his very eyes and 
yet not be detected in any of it as the secret is so subtle. 
Such performer must, however, be an actor and a mas- 
ter of the art of "misdirection." 
* * * 

There is another means of secretly securing knowl- 
edge of a subject's questions, or, as is sometimes done 
by mediums, of a confession of some secret thing 
which such subject has done, or in which he desires 
help, and yet is anxious to keep secret. Here a stack 
of small slates, with one large one, is again used. 

In the latter case the medium informs the subject 
that he does not care to know what the subject may 
confess ; but that it is necessary for him to write out 
a full confession, giving all names, etc., if he desire 
spiritual aid. That, however, he is at perfect liberty 
to keep the confession entirely secret. 

The subject is then given a slip of paper, or he may 
use his own ; and he is directed to write out his con- 
fession, or questions, as the case may be, and to seal 
the same in an envelope lying on the table. While he 
is doing this the medium is sitting and writing on the 
large slate, as if busy with some matter of his own. 
He sits side-wise to the subject and does not appear 
to watch him. 


When the subject has written as he is directed, the 
medium instructs him to seal his paper in the envelope 
and to lay it on top of the stack of small slates which 
are on the table in front of him. When he has done 
so, the medium places the large slate on top of the 
stack of small slates, and asks the sitter to write on 
this large slate the name of some dead relative. When 
this is done, the medium lifts the large slate off the 
stack, secretly carrying under it the top small slate. 
At the same time he asks the sitter if the name on the 
large slate be that of a dead relative. 

Now, on the second small slate from the top, the 
medium has previously secretly placed a duplicate en- 
velope with a sheet of paper in it; so that when the 
top slate is carried away secretly, under the large slate, 
and bearing on its upper surface between it and the 
large slate the envelope containing the writing of the 
sitter, this duplicate envelope on top of the remaining 
slates will appear to be the one the sitter has just 
sealed and placed there. 

The operator usually has some paper and other loose 
objects on one end of the table, so that he can lay down 
the large slate with the concealed one under it ; and so 
that the concealed slate will not make its presence 
known by preventing the large slate from touching the 
table, as would be the case were it laid flat on the table. 

The operator now asks the subject to lay "his" en- 
velope on the table to one side, and to select two of 
the slates. This he does, (really laying the duplicate 
to one side), and the medium now has the subject 
place his palms on these selected slates and try for a 
slate writing. He remarks that he does not feel quite 
right just now, and fears that he can not succeed, as 
conditions do not seem favorable. After a short trial 


and failure, he generally tells the subject that he will 
have to give up at present; but for him to return to- 
morrow or later in the day, and he will make a second 
effort, when conditions will doubtless be more favor- 
able. He says, ''Remember your questions (or con- 
fession)"; and reaching, he takes up the duplicate 
envelope which the subject thinks contains his writing, 
and says, "I will let you take this with you — no, I will 
not, either; as that would not be right. I will just 
burn it up." Suiting the action to the word, he takes 
a match and burns the duplicate envelope and paper 
entirely to ashes, allowing the latter to fall on one of 
the slates. He now dismisses the subject, after making 
an appointment for a second trial. 

As soon as the subject has departed, the medium 
lifts the large slate ; and taking up the original enve- 
lope on top of the concealed small slate, he opens and 
reads the confession, or questions, as the case may be. 
He thoroughly memorizes all, and prepares a fine mes- 
sage, answering everything; so that when the subject 
returns, he will have all of his writing answered very 

The medium with whom I am acquainted, and who 
works this fine trick very frequently, generally has the 
subject depart and make a second visit as herein de- 
scribed ; but if he prefer, he can, after failing to pro- 
duce a message, and after burning the duplicate en- 
velope, conduct his guest to some other apartment for 
some other experiment, and return later for a second 
trial for a message. In this case an assistant enters 
the room, reads the writing, and prepares the message 
during the absence of the medium and his guest. 

If the medium have a dark chamber, he can have 
taken the subject into it for some dark sitting mani- 


festations ; as the absence of light-waves is very con- 
ducive to success with the "spirits," and is very helpful 
in ''establishing favorable conditions and harmony." 
After some experiments here they return and again 
try for a slate writing; and this time the subject is 
thoroughly satisfied and convinced. 
* * * 

If when a sitter receive a slate writing from a dear 
one who is dead, he receive in addition thereto a token 
of love in the shape of a flower, a handkerchief of 
soft silk, or some other object, the performance has 
a very emotional effect on him ; and such token is 
usually preserved throughout life. Now, in working 
any of these tricks using a stack of slates, if a larger 
number of small slates be used, such as twelve or 
more, two slates can be added or removed under the 
large slate instead of one, and will attract no notice 
if removed or added when a sufficient number are in 
the stack. These two may contain between them, in 
addition to the message, such flower or token as the 
medium may desire. 

If the performer be able deftly to hold the token 
against the lower side of the concealed small slate, 
and adroitly to insert it, he need not have more than 
one small slate under the large one. 


There is a trick wherein but two slates are used that 
is very effective. I will give the explanation and effect 
together in this case. 

I have the message prepared on one of the slates, 
and I use a small center table such as has a shelf at- 
tached to the legs about a foot above the floor. I lean 
the prepared slate on the floor against this shelf, and 


out of view on the side of the table opposite where the 
subject is to sit. I have a chair near the same side 
of the table where I will later take my seat. 

On the center of the table a number of newspapers 
lie carelessly. I place a chair near the side of the table 
where I desire the spectator to sit. I now seat him 
on this chair and stepping to a drawer, I bring him a 
small slate with bound edges; one that looks just like 
the one containing the message. I ask him to thor- 
oughly examine or clean it; and as he does so I seat 
myself at the opposite side of the table. I now re- 
quest him to place his slate flat on the table, and to 
place his palms on it. I then request him to rest his 
face on his hands while they lie on the slate for a half 
minute, and to close his eyes and make his mind pas- 
sive while so doing. 

While he does this I secretly reach to the floor, lift 
the message slate and lay it flat on my knees under 
the table, message side up. I now place my palms on 
the table and in a few moments ask the subject to ex- 
amine his slate for a message. He, of course, finds 
none; and I seem disappointed at this, but request 
him to hold it for a time on the table and try again. 
This all lends an air of great honesty to the perform- 
ance and tends to throw the subject off his guard. On 
examining the slate again he finds nothing, so I take 
the slate from his hands and examine it to see if there 
actually be no sign of writing. Finding nothing, I 
place the slate under the table near the center, with 
my right hand, in a rather hurried manner; and I 
request him to reach his right hand under the table 
and grasp the slate and to press it to the table above it. 
I tell him to leave his left palm on the table ; and I take 
his attention sufficiently in telling him how to place 


his left palm on the table, that it prevents him from 
looking under the table in any manner. I immediately 
bring out my right hand, leaving him holding the slate 
with his one hand. 

I suppose that it is hardly necessary to state that as 
I lower my right hand with the examined slate below 
the table, I leave this slate on my lap and instantly, 
without pause, carry up under the table the prepared 
slate which is on my knees. 

Now, that the subject is holding the message slate 
in proper position with his other palm on top of the 
table, I make a move as if to place my right hand on 
the center of the table. Meanwhile my left hand has 
dropped out of sight, apparently, by my side. I seem 
annoyed by the newspapers in the center of the table, 
and remark, "I will clear these out of the way." As 
I say this I take a number of them in my right hand 
and pass them to my left hand, which comes up near 
the height of the table top to meet my right; but it 
secretly contains the slate which was left on my lap. 
The papers in my right hand are moved towards my 
left hand so as to conceal this slate, and my left hand 
grasps them on top of the slate which it contains. The 
left hand should not be high enough for the back edge 
of the slate to be in view of the sitter, until after the 
papers are passed over it and grasped on top of the 
slate. As I make this move I am rising form the 
chair; and with my right hand I pick up the remain- 
ing papers and pass them also to my left hand, but 
this time I pass them underneath the others; so that 
the slate is now between the papers in my left hand. 
At the same time I take hold of my chair with my right 
hand and set it back out of my way. 

I now quickly place the papers on a table just 


through a folding door and secretly place the discarded 
slate in a concealed position. I do this very quickly 
and return ; hut meanwhile I am instructing the sitter 
hozv to press his right palm to the table with the Ungers 
spread apart, but with thumb contacting the first finger, 
etc. I keep my eyes on him except for a moment and 
take his attention so that there is no danger of his 
examining the slate the mere instant I am out of view. 
I return at once to the table, standing, this time, and 
placing my palms on each side of his. In due time he 
brings out his slate and finds the message. 

Should he examine the table nothing can be found, 
neither can anything be found on my person. This 
trick is very effective ; and the sitter usually forgets 
that I placed the slate under the table for, him, and 
states afterwards that the slate never left his hands 
after he cleaned it. 

When I place the slate under the table in the first 
place, I remark, "May be if the slate is under the table 
we will get something ;" at the same instant placing it 
under in a natural manner, and requesting him to pass 
his right hand under the table and grasp it. I make 
no pause in changing the slates on my lap, and the use 
of slates with bound edges prevents all noise. 

This trick may seem difficult to the reader, but I 
assure him that it is very simple. It only requires that 
the details be well fixed in the mind of the operator, 
and that he have ample courage to try it and direct 
all operations himself. He must be perfectly at home 
and not in the lesat embarrassed, and must act with 
perfect self-confidence. 



I will next describe a slate trick sold by certain 
dealers. It is a very excellent trick and is used by 
many of the very best performers of the present day. I 
know a professional medium who uses it very success- 
fully. I happened to meet him ; and in the course of 
certain discussions over trickery resorted to by certain 
mediums, I made mention of this trick, and even per- 
formed it for him, afterwards explaining it to him. 
I soon heard of his performing a slate test which 
answers the description of this one, and with which 
he was so successful that he received almost a column 
notice in the Progressive Thinker of May 26, 1906. 

I may incidentally mention that prior to my discus- 
sion of the subject with him, he gave no slate-writing 
tests. In fact, when I first met him, he made no claims 
to mediumistic powers, but merely acted as manager 
for his wife who was a medium. I also happened to 
explain the billet test to him, wherein the spectators 
write questions on thin cards addressing them to spirits 
and then seal them in envelopes. They are taken to 
the operator, who wuth them, is placed under a large 
cloth cover and enveloped in perfect darkness. The 
operator reads them by holding a small electric flash 
light behind the envelopes in the darkness. The en- 
velopes are rendered transparent in this manner, and 
the writing can be easily read. 

I soon thereafter heard of his working this trick in 
a public hall, going into a trance, lying on a table, be- 
ing covered with a large drape and in absolute dark- 
ness. The billets were placed under the cover with 
him, and he gave the tests, handing out each envelope 
unopened as he answered the question it contained. 


The audience was greatly impressed with this seance. 
I will now describe the slate trick. 

The performer enters with three slates. The subject 
is seated in a chair but the operator or medium remains 
standing. The operator now lays the three slates on 
a table close at hand. He picks up the top slate, which 
is free of all writing, and washes and dries it on both 
sides; then holding it to the eyes of the subject, asks 
him if the slate is perfectly clean, exhibiting both sides 
to his view. It is a fact so evident that the subject 
thinks everything honest, and, in fact, does not look 
for trickery. 

The operator now asks the subject to take this slate 
in his right hand and hold it. This the subject does, 
and is of course at liberty to thoroughly examine the 
slate, which for that reason he seldom does. If he 
should do so there is no harm done, for the slate is 
without preparation. 

The operator then takes the next slate from the 
table, cleans and exhibits it in the same manner, and 
finally requests the subject to hold this slate in his left 
hand. This the subject does. The operator now takes 
up the remaining slate and thoroughly cleans and ex- 
hibits both sides of it to the spectator. Then taking 
two of the slates, he places two sides of them together 
right under the eyes of the sitter, calling his attention 
to the fact that no writing is on either. 

The operator now ties the two slates together and 
gives them to the subject to hold in his lap, and asks 
the subject to place his handkerchief on them. Next 
the operator takes a silk foulard or ordinary muffler, 
and asks the subject to wrap the remaining slate in 
this, to place it on top of the other two slates, and to 
place his hands on the same. This is done and the 


Operator takes care thereafter in no way to go near 
or touch the slates. Meanwhile he talks on the proper 
subject for a time, and then directs the spectator to 
open and examine the slates. When he does so he 
finds a long spirit message completely covering one 
side of one of the slates. 

If in any manner it has been possible for the operator 
to have previously become acquainted with any of the 
history of the sitter, this message may be from a de- 
parted friend or relative, in which case the effect on 
him is very great. 

What was it that happened without the knowledge 
of the sitter? In what way has the operator accom- 
plished this illusion? First there are certain moves 
that escape the notice of the subject, and are forgotten 
simply because they are accomplished in a perfectly 
natural manner. Also there is a secret about one of 
the slates. It is of the style known as a "flap slate," 
Such a slate is an ordinary one, except that there is 
a loose piece of slate called a *'flap" which fits neatly 
into the frame of the slate. When the flap is in posi- 
tion the slate appears to the sight as an ordinary slate, 
and any message written on the surface of the slate 
proper under this flap, can not be seen. The flap fits 
loosely enough so that if the slate be turned over it 
will fall out and expose the concealed message. There 
are many trick slates, but the "flap slate" is the best 
and the one most generally used. It can be used in a 
number of different ways. 

This slate, with the message prepared upon it and 
signed, and the flap in position over it, is situated at 
the bottom of the three slates. The performer places 
these three slates on a small table or chair when he 
enters as stated at first. He cleans and exhibits the 


first two slates and gives them to the subject to hold 
as already described. Now he next cleans and exhibits 
the third slate, using care to grasp it with his fingers 
so that the flap does not drop out. He turns both sides 
of it to the subject for inspection, who, after having 
so thoroughly examined the others, is by this time tired 
of the repetition of such close examination where noth- 
ing can be discovered, and is therefore more ready to 
look and be satisfied. 

The performer now takes from the subject's hand 
one of the other slates and places it on top of the slate 
in his own hand. It must be remembered that the slate 
in the operator's hand is flap side up and in a hori- 
zontal position. He places the side edge of the un- 
prepared slate on the side edge of the flap slate, one 
being at a right angle to the other, and then he calls 
attention to the fact that there is no writing between 
the two slates.- He next closes the slates. 

Now here comes the natural move that escapes the 
subject and is forgotten afterwards. The operator 
appears to be examining the edges of the two slates 
to see if they fit neatly; and in doing so he looks 
toward the window or other light, and holds the two 
slates to this light edgewise as if he were peering 
between them to see if they fit. As he brings up the 
slates to look through them he merely turns the for- 
ward end over towards his eyes and peers through. 

This move attracts less attention, if the operator first 
tilt the right edge of the slates downward, and appar- 
ently inspects the left edge of them as if looking to see 
if they fit neatly. He should then immediately bring 
them to a horizontal position, tilt up the end furthest 
from himself, inspect it an instant, and then elevate 
the lower end towards a window or light and peer 


through. In this manner the moves seem natural, 
and if executed rapidly attract no notice. 

This turn, of course, brings the flap slate to the 
top and the flap falls from it quietly into the unpre- 
pared slate. As the performer looks through these 
slates he remarks that they do not seem to fit properly ; 
and suiting his action to the word he lowers his hands 
with the slates to the table, leaving the lower or un- 
prepared slate, now containing the flap, on the table. 
Remarking, "Let me try that one," he takes the re- 
maining slate from the subject, quickly placing his 
slate on top of it. As he does all this he of course 
does not expose the lower side of the slate in his hands 
to the view of the subject, because it contains the mes- 
sage. He holds this slate slightly tilted so that the 
message side is away from the subject. 

As he takes this second slate from the subject, he 
places his slate on top of it and peers through between 
them quickly, remarking that they fit better ; and then 
taking a long piece of tape he quickly ties and binds 
these two slates. He now places them on the sitter's 
lap. Taking a small piece of chalk or slate pencil 
which he has apparently forgotten, he slips the top 
slate at one corner slightly to one side, and drops the 
chalk into the lower slate, slipping the top one back 
into position. He now asks the subject to place his 
handkerchief over the slates and his hands on the 
same. This employs him and keeps his attention from 
the third slate on the table which now contains the 
discarded flap. This slate appears to the eyes as 
merely an ordinary one, although it contains this flap. 

The operator now picks up this third slate, and 
apparently looking for something, asks the subject, 
"Where did I place the silk muffler?" As there 


was no silk muffler brought out, this surprises the 
subject and takes his attention ; the operator then re- 
marks, "I guess I forgot it," and steps through the 
folding doors to get it. He of course carries the third 
slate with the Hap in it, zmth him. When out of sight 
he drops the Hap into a drawer, and quickly returning 
with the slik muffler and third slate, starts to wrap up 
this slate ; but changing his mind he requests the sub- 
ject to wrap it up, place it on top of the others, and 
then to place his palms on the same. This gives the 
subject ample opportunity to examine this third slate, 
and he soon forgets that the operator carried it out 
of the room for an instant. Of course the message 
will be found on the top slate of the two that were 
tied together, and the others never have anything on 

By this time the subject has forgotten the little move 
where the operator laid down one slate on the table, 
and took the other from him, tying them together. 
* * * 

As I perform this trick, I usually perform it for a 
company as a conjuring trick. I cause a selected word 
and its definition in a dictionary held by a spectator, to 
appear on the slate in chalk writing. I force the selec- 
tion of the word after the slates are tied together, and 
while they are held by a spectator. 

The manner in which I do this is as follows: I first 
bring from a table in the adjoining parlor a pack of 
cards which resemble playing cards on their backs, but 
they have only different printed numbers on the face. 
I exhibit these and return them to the table. 

As I do this I of course exchange them for another 
pack made up of cards bearing only two numbers ; 
that is, half of the cards bear one number, and half 


of them another number. Let us suppose these num- 
bers are 38 and 42. I arrange the pack previous to 
the trick with these two numbers alternately, so that 
if the pack be cut or separated at any point, the next 
two cards will be cards bearing the numbers 38 and 
42. I leave this pack in view on the table, and the 
spectators think it the pack they have just examined. 

I now return with a velvet bag on the end of a stick 
or long handle, and ask some one to take from this 
bag a number of small wooden discs, and to read and 
call off the numbers printed on each, and then to 
return them to the bag. This is done, and each is 
seen to bear a different number. Now reaching this 
bag to some one else, I request him to draw a single 
disc from this bag and retain the same, but not to 
look at it. This is done and he of course draws one 
with the number on it that I desire, for the reason 
that the bag on the end of the stick is double ; that is, 
it has a partition in it forming two compartments. 

The stick or handle is of tin japanned, and is hollow, 
containing a piston operated by a spring from a win- 
dow curtain roller. This piston is a wire, and it ex- 
tends beyond the handle, through a seam in the top 
of the cloth partition in the bag ; and this part is bent 
in a half circle, the same as the sides of the upper edge 
of the bag. 

When I bring the bag in, I have the partition to 
one side, so that the compartment containing the discs 
made up of different numbers, is open. After a spec- 
tator examines a handful of discs and returns them, 
I release the pressure I am exerting on the rear end 
of the handle, allowing the piston to revolve; and it 
thus opens the compartment wherein all the discs are 
of a single number, and at the same time closes the 


Other compartment. The person drawing the disc can 
only draw the number desired, as all the discs in this 
compartment bear the same number. 

This number indicates the number of the correct 
word on the page. I next bring forward the pack of 
substituted number cards, and asking some spectator 
to cut them, I next ask him to select the two left on 
top. I return the others to a drawer, and ask him to 
add up the two numbers on the selected cards and give 
the result. This sum indicates which page in the dic- 
tionary the third spectator, who holds it, shall select. 
This the third spectator does, and he then counts to the 
selected word indicated by the selected disc, and reads 
it aloud. I move my hand mysteriously over the slates 
for a moment and appear to listen intently, after which 
I direct the spectator holding the slates to examine 
them. The effect is very startling. The paraphernalia 
for this trick can be obtained from any of the con- 
juring depots. 

I will here describe how to prepare the slates for this 
experiment. I go to a store with a good supply of 
slates, take a piece of stiff pastepoard and cut it to fit 
nicely into the bevel of the frame of some good slate 
which I wish to use. I then try this pasteboard flap 
in other slates until I find one in which this flap fits 
nicely on either side of the slate. I lay this one aside 
for my purpose and select another, making three that 
have frames which are uniform in size on both sides, 
and which are all the same in size, measuring within the 
bevel of the frames. These frames should also be per- 
fectly square at the corners inside the bevel. As the 
slates in stock vary in size, this careful selection is 
necessary. I use slates seven by nine inches inside the 


bevel for this trick, which is the most suitable size. 
I also select slates with true or level surfaces. 

I next select a slate with a true surface, but as thin 
as possible. I use the slate in this to make the loose 
slate flap. I mark the slate portion around next the 
frame with a knife, then saw away the frame. I next 
take a saw such as is used in sawing metal, and saw 
away the edges of the flap at the marks I have made. 
I now try this flap in one of the slates ; and if it be 
too tight, I remedy by use of a file. I also bevel the 
edges of this flap for a half inch, so that when it is 
placed in the frame of one of the slates, the slate will 
appear nearly natural by showing some of the bevel 
of the frame on that side. 

It is quite necessary to select slates with as deep a 
bevel to the frames as possible ; and if the flap be too 
thick, it is necessary to grind it thinner with a stone, 
and then smooth up with a smooth stone or a block 
and some fine powder. 

I prefer padded slates, but select those on which the 
cloth binding is not too wide ; as I desire the slates to 
rest closely together when I turn them, so that the 
flap will not have to fall far; and so it will be more 
certain to fall within the frame of the lower slate. 


I will here describe another trick, where only a 
double or hinged slate is used. I will give the ex- 
planation and effect both together. I select for this a 
double or hinged slate size five by seven, and prepare 
a flap to fit in one side of one of the slates. It makes 
no difference whether it fit any of the other sides or 
not. I bevel this flap on one side only, as but one side 
of it ever shows. I paste a sheet of newspaper on the 


side that is not beveled. This must be trimmed off 
very accurately and well glued to the flap with library 

I prepare the message with a soapstone pencil or 
a piece of chalk, and cover it with this flap. The slate 
now appears perfectly natural. I seat my subject at 
a table on which are scattered some newspapers. The 
table should be large enough for these papers to be 
in two piles. One of the piles usually has only one 
paper in it which is opened out on the table. This is 
farthest from the sitter. The other papers are directly 
in front of him. 

The message is on the outside of one of the slates of 
the double slate, with the flap over it, so that it appears 
as an ordinary slate. I grasp this slate in my left hand 
with my fingers on the flap side, and my thumb on the 
opposite side. The hinged edge of the slates is the 
edge that is in my hand. I hold the back of my left 
hand facing the sitter, who is at my right hand, seated 
at the table. 

I exhibit this flap side of the slate to him, calling 
his attention to the fact that it is free from writing. 
I also rub a dry handkerchief over it as if making this 
fact doubly sure. I instantly turn my hand exhibiting 
the other side to his view, and likewise calling his 
attention to the fact of its freedom from writing. I 
now lay the slate flat on the newspaper under my left 
hand flap side down, just as I am holding it. As I 
do this I slightly pull up my sleeves as if they annoy 
me, and as if this were why I have just laid the slate 
down. Of course, when the slate is laid down in this 
position, the flap drops instantly on the newspaper ; and 
afterwards, when the slate is lifted up, it remains on 
the paper. It will not be noticed at all, having the 


sheet of newspaper pasted to its upper surface, if the 
attention of the subject is not directed to this paper, 
but is kept instead on the slate as it is being handled. 

I instantly remark, ''Of course, you desire to see the 
inside of these slates also" ; and suiting the action to 
the word, I carelessly lift the upper slate with my left 
hand, grasping it by the edge nearest the spectator. 
This is the edge opposite the cloth hinge ; so as I lift 
this edge up, the slates assume a vertical position, 
opening out and hanging suspended below my hand. 
The insides of the two slates are thus exposed to the 
view of the subject, and are seen to be free from 
writing. I take my right hand and quickly grasp the 
lower slate, closing it up under the upper one, which 
at the same time I lower to a horizontal positon. 

This folds the two slates together or closes them, by 
folding in the direction away from the sitter; so that 
what were before rfie inside surfaces of the slates are 
now the outside, and the hinged edge now faces the 
subject. The message is now inside the slates on the 
upper surface of the lower one. 

I now grasp both slates with my left hand, and I 
take a rubber band from my pocket with my right hand 
and quickly snap it around them. I give the slates to 
the spectator and say, "Place them on the table with 
your palms on them. I will remove these papers which 
are in the way." As I say this I lift the pile of papers 
from in front of him ; and as he places the slate on the 
table, I place these papers on top of the other paper on 
which rests the invisible flap. I lift this paper up now 
with the others, and take them all including the dis- 
carded flap, and quickly remove them from view. 

Meanwhile I instruct the sitter how to hold his 
palms, and I instantly return and direct the seance. 


In due time he finds the message. This trick is ex- 
cellent if worked carefully and not too slowly. If used 
in the daylight, too strong a light should be avoided ; 
although I have no trouble anywhere, because I al- 
ways keep absolute control of the subject's attention, 
which is the most vital part of any trick. 

I will next describe a trick known to the "profes- 
sion" as ''Independent Paper Writing." A number of 
small tablets of scratch paper are brought out. The 
size that I generally use is about four by five inches. 
The subject is requested to select a sheet of paper from 
any of the tablets, which he does. Meanwhile the 
operator brings to the table two slates about the size 
of seven by nine inches inside measure. 

The operator requests the subject to place his sheet 
of paper on one of the slates, which he does. There 
is no writing on the slates, which fact the subject can 
see. The other slate is now placed on top of the one 
with the sheet of blank paper. The edges of the slates 
are made even, and the slates held for a time on the 
head of the medium in view of the sitter. In due time 
the slates are separated and the paper is found to be 
covered with a message on both sides. The writing 
is in pencil or ink according to the pleasure of the 

If the subject has previously been induced to write 
his questions and retain the same, this message an- 
swers them in detail and is signed by the name of the 
spirit to whom they were addressed. 

There are many means of securing knowledge of 
questions written secretly. Some of the best I am un- 
able to give in this work, as I am under a contract with 


the dealer from whom I purchased the same to main- 
tain secrecy in regard to the method. Any of the 
means previously given may be used if the performer 
desire. Farther on, however, I will give some addi- 
tional information on the subject. 

I will now explain the slate part of the ^'Independent 
Paper Writing." The slates are selected from bound 
slates, just as the three slates were selected for the 
first "flap slate" trick. One of these contains a flap, 
but it is not a slate flap. It is what is known as a 
"silicate slate flap." These are very light and about as 
thick as pasteboard. Procured from some dealers they 
are a little too dark to exactly match the slate in color, 
but I have generally been able to procure exactly the 
proper shade from George L. Williams & Co., 7145 
Champlain Ave., Chicago, 111. 

In the prepared slate which I lay upon the table, and 
upon which the subject is to place the blank sheet of 
paper, is a similar sheet of paper under the flap. The 
message is, of course, written on this paper in advance. 
As the flap is over it, nothing can be seen and the slate 
appears merely as an ordinary one. Most generally I 
take the sheet of paper from my subject with the tips 
of my fingers and place it on this slate. I then lay the 
other slate, which I exhibit to the spectator, on top of 
this one. I even up the edges, and then grasp the two 
slates by their edges tightly and bring them on top of 
my head for a time. This move naturally turns the 
slates over, and of course the flap drops quietly into the 
lower slate. Meanwhile I address the subject in the 
proper manner; and when I take the slates down, 
lowering them to the table, I leave the slate that is 
next my head underneath the other one. I lift off the 
top slate and hand the subject the slip of paper, which 


he sees at the first glance is covered with writing. The 
effect is very great. 

The subject immediately begins to read the message 
with such interest, that I have ample opportunity to 
take the slate containing the flap in my left hand, and 
while the subject reads the message aloud (which I 
direct him to do), I step through a door to a drawer 
to get some article ; and, of course, I drop the flap and 
concealed slip of blank paper into the drawer, but keep 
the slate still in my hand as I return to the subject. 
I then lay this slate on the table while I inspect the 

This is really one of the most eflfective tricks and is 
very easy to perform. The operator should select slates 
that are well matched and should procure a flap of the 
desired color. The flaps are very cheap. 

Sometimes I tear a corner from the slip of paper 
containing the message. When I do this I conceal it 
between the ends of my fingers; and when the subject 
gives me his selected sheet of paper, I tear a similar 
corner from it. I apparently hand this last corner to 
the subject with the request that he retain it. Of 
course, I give him the corner which was torn from the 
message slip instead and conceal the last corner torn 
off in its place. 

After the message is produced and read, I remind 
the subject to see if this corner fits his slip of paper. 
Worked as a conjuring trick, this last effect adds some 
improvement to the trick; but I am not sure that it 
adds to the effect if given as a genuine phenomenon ; 
for tearing off the corner reminds one of conjuring 
tricks, and thus suggests the idea of trickery. 

However, I generally tear off this small corner so that 
on one side of it, there is a portion of one of the words 


of the message. In this case, instead of giving this 
corner to the subject to hold, I lay it on the table, 
writing side down, and request him to place his finger 
on it. Finding a part of one of the words on this 
corner gives the idea that this writing was done while 
he held it. This adds more mystery to the effect. 


The trick described here is most suitable for plat- 
form production. The performer takes a single slate in 
his hand and a piece of chalk in the other hand. He 
exhibits one side of the slate to the audience, saying, 
"Side one." As he does this he makes a large figure 
"one" on that side of the slate. He then turns the 
slate, and saying, "Side two," makes a large figure 
"two" on that side of the slate. He next steps to a 
chair or table, and taking a damp cloth, washes off 
first one side and then the other. He immediately sets 
the slate in full view of the spectators in a vertical 
position, so that one side faces the spectators and the 
other side is of course hidden from view. He leans 
it against any object that may be convenient, usually 
against a chair or table leg with one edge resting on 
the floor. In a short time he lifts the slate, exhibiting 
the rear surface on which is written a message in chalk 

The secret of this trick is again a slate flap. The 
message is prepared and the flap in place. The per- 
former grasps the slate so as to hold the flap in posi- 
tion, and exhibits and marks the two sides of the slate. 
He now steps to a table or chair to get a piece of damp 
cloth ; and as he washes "side one" of the slate, he rests 
the lower edge of the slate on the table or chair. As he 
does this he tilts the slate backwards slightly. He next 


turns the slate so that "side two" faces the audience ; 
and as he washes this side, he releases his hold on the 
flap on the rear of the slate, and allows it to drop on 
the table or chair. 

If a chair be used, a newspaper is in place spread out 
on its seat; and a piece of newspaper is also pasted 
on what will be the upper side of the flap after it be 
dropped on the newspaper. If instead of a chair a 
table be used, and if it have a dark or slate colored 
cover, no newspaper need be used on either the table 
or flap. However, the newspaper can be used when 
using a table if the performer so desire, or the slate 
can first be cleaned and then taken to the paper to be 
wrapped up. In this case, the performer merely places 
the slate on the newspaper, flap side down, remarking 
that he will wrap it up ; then as if suddenly changing 
his mind, he remarks, "No, I will stand it here where 
you can all watch it, instead." He then places the slate 
in the vertical position before described ; but of course 
uses care not to expose the rear side of the slate con- 
taining the message. 

Some performers prefer to have the table top cov- 
ered with velvet or felt, and a piece of the same mate- 
rial glued on what will be the upper surface of the flap 
after it is dropped on the table. 

This trick makes an excellent conjuring trick, if a 
single word in a book be chosen and then made to 
appear on the slate in chalk writing. In this case I first 
prepare the slate, and after thoroughly washing both 
sides, place it on the platform as I have described. 

I now take two books not alike, and descend to the 
audience, giving one of them to some spectator to 
hold. Next I give a card to a second spectator and 
ask him to insert it in the end of the remaining book 


which I still hold. I ask him to let it protrude from 
between the leaves about a half inch. I tell him to 
place it between any of the leaves he may desire. 
When he has done so I step to another spectator and 
request him to open the book at the position occupied 
by the card, and to call aloud the page that it marks. 
I step to this third spectator, a slight distance away, 
and before I reach him I ask him if he will assist me. 
As I ask this I start towards him. All eyes are turned 
towards him as I direct my attention to him, and of 
course at this instant I turn the book in my hands end 
for end. In the other end of the book a duplicate card 
has previously been placed at the page I desire ; and as 
I approach him, my fingers secretly press the second 
spectator's card entirely into the book. The third spec- 
tator, of course, opens the book at the position marked 
by the duplicate card. 

As soon as he reads aloud the number of the selected 
page on his right (which I request him to do) I ask 
the spectator holding the other book to open it at the 
page chosen, and to read aloud the bottom word, which 
is of course the word prepared on the rear of the slate. 
If the performer can procure a book which somewhere 
within it has two consecutive pages on which the bot- 
tom words are the same, he can have some spectator 
choose whether the page selected shall be the right 
one or the left one. This choice should be made be- 
fore the book containing the cards is opened. 

If such a book can not be procured, then the ope- 
rator can simply ask the spectator opening the first 
book to read aloud the page number on his right. He 
should then turn to the person holding the second book 
and request him to turn to that page and read aloud the 
bottom word. As soon as the word is read aloud, the 


performer takes both books, runs to the stage, and 
turning over the slate exhibits the word. The slate is 
passed down for inspection. 

* * * 
Another method can be used for forcing the choice 
of, say, the right page, of the two pages where the du- 
plicate card is located. When the third spectator opens 
the book at the card, the performer turns to another 
spectator and asks, "Which page will you take, the 
right or left?" If the spectator choose the right page, 
the performer directs the person holding the book to 
read aloud this page number. If, however, the person 
should take the left page, the performer then remarks 
in a natural manner to the person holding the book, 
"He chooses the left, so you will have to choose the 
right." This seems perfectly natural to the audience, 
and the person holding the book is then directed to 
read aloud the number of "his page." 

If the operator prefer, he can, when the spectator 
first opens the book, stand directly in front of him and 
grasp the two sides of the book with his two hands. 
He can then ask, "Which shall I take, the right or left 
page?" If some one replies, "The right," the operator 
asks the person holding the book to read aloud the 
number of the page on his right ; but if the left be 
chosen, the operator says, "Read aloud the page num- 
ber on my left." In either case the page is the same. 
If when asking the question, "Which shall I take, the 
right or left page?" the operator emphasize the word 
"right" slightly, and then pause a mere instant before 
rapidly continuing the question, the "right" will almost 
invariably be chosen. 

I consider this slate trick as the best one for stage 
work that I have seen. It is very simple, and the 


simplest tricks are always the best and most difficult 
of detection. After the message is produced and the 
slate sent out for inspection, the operator piles some 
unused articles on the discarded flap and removes all 

One operator, when performing this trick in a par- 
lor, previously takes from the shelves of the library 
some new book that has never been opened, and of the 
style that opens rather stiffly. He selects the page he 
desires, and proceeds to open the book up widely at 
this page. After this, the book will naturally open at 
this place. He is careful not to open it widely else- 

He now selects two playing cards from duplicate 
packs, the cards being duplicates of each other, and 
places one secretly in this book where it has been 
opened. When ready to perform, he takes one of the 
packs of cards, and takes a card from it apparently 
at random. This card is really the duplicate of the 
one in the book. The performer gives this card to a 
spectator, and asks him to push it into the book be- 
tween the leaves at any position he may select, pushing 
it entirely out of sight. This is done. Now without 
any change whatever the performer presents this book 
to a second spectator to open at the card and call out 
the page. As he does this the book naturally falls open 
at the place where the first card was concealed, and 
where the glue used in binding the book has been 
broken. The card being there, and being apparently 
a mere playing card selected at random from a pack, 
lends a color of genuineness to the performance. 

Another operator, Vv^hen performing this slate tricky 
causes the sum of a number of figures to appear on 
the slate instead of a word or message. He accora- 


plishes this as follows: He writes a horizontal row 
of three figures on the front fly leaf of some book. 
Under this row of three figures he writes in different 
hands, two or three other rows and draws a line below 
them as if ready to add them up. 

When performing, he takes this book ; and opening 
it at the back fly leaf, he requests a spectator to write 
a horizontal row of three figures, each figure to be his 
own choice. When this is done he takes the book, 
and in the same manner has another spectator write 
three figures under these. He continues this until 
there are as many horizontal rows of figures as he 
has prepared on the frojit fly leaf. 

He now requests the last writer to draw a line under 
all of the figures ; and then, taking the book, he passes 
it to still another spectator, with a request that he add 
the figures carefully and announce their sum verbally. 
Of course, when he gives this book to the last spec- 
tator he opens it at the front fly leaf, (having pre- 
viously allowed the book to close), and the last spec- 
tator adds up the figures written by the operator and 
whose sum is on the prepared slate. 

Some performers produce this same result by having 
the spectators write on a card, and then exchanging the 
card ; but the method with the book is the better, as it is 
perfectly evident that the book is not exchanged. This 
adds to the after eft'ect of the trick. 
* * * 

T am acquainted with a performer who uses two 
slates instead of one when performing this trick. He 
first cleans the unprepared slate on both sides, showing 
the spectators that both sides are clean. He then gives 
this slate to a spectator to hold. He next cleans the 
slate containing the flap, resting one edge on a news- 


paper spread on a table while he washes each side. 
Of course, he allows the flap to drop onto the paper 
from behind the slate while cleaning the second side 
of the slate. Having newspaper pasted on one side 
of the flap as before stated, it can not be seen when on 
the paper. 

He immediately advances to the spectator who holds 
the first slate, and says, "I will tie them together." 
As he does this he carries the slate with the message 
writing side down, so that no one can see it; and 
quickly placing this slate on top of the other one, he 
ties the two together and leaves them in the possession 
of the spectator to be held. 

I know of another performer who uses three slates 
in this trick and gets an answer to a question which 
some one asks aloud. Certain words in the answer are 
written in colors such as the spectator may choose. 
His assistant behind the scenes has the third slate with 
the flap ; and when the operator gets some spectator to 
ask the question, the assistant immediately writes the 
answer and lays the flap over it. The operator at the 
time asks some spectator to designate which words in 
the answer shall be in certain colors, and if the fifth, 
seventh, etc., be chosen, the assistant writes these 
words with colored crayons. 

The assistant now, after laying the flap over the 
message, places the slate between the leaves of a news- 
paper, flap side up. This paper he quietly lays upon a 
table on the stage unobserved. While this is being 
done, the performer has taken the two unprepared 
slates down to the spectators and had them thoroughly 
examined. This has taken the attention of the spec- 
tators so that no one has observed the assistant enter 
and leave the stage. 


The operator now returns to the stage ; and stepping 
to this table, he lays one slate on the table behind the 
paper and starts to place the edge of his other slate 
on the front part of the table while he numbers and 
cleans the sides. The newspaper appears to be in his 
way; so with his left hand he draws it backwards on 
the table over the first slate laid down ; and then, rest- 
ing the other slate on the table, numbers its two sides 
with a piece of chalk. He now cleans both sides thor- 
oughly and stands this slate edgewise on the floor 
against a chair. He next apparently draws from under 
the newspaper on the table the other slate. In reality, 
he draws out the prepared slate with the flap in posi- 
tion from between the leaves of the newspaper. 

He now numbers both sides of this slate, standing 
it edgewise on the newspaper and showing each side 
as he does so. He next cleans the flap side thoroughly, 
and then turns the slate to clean the other side, and 
while so doing allows the flap to fall from behind the 
slate upon the newspaper. 

As soon as the second or unprepared side is clean, 
the operator places this slate in front of the one on the 
floor and lifts both together, ties them securely, and 
passes them to the audience to be held for a time. In 
due time the spectators untie them, finding the message 
answering the spoken question. The designated words 
are in the chosen colors which makes the effect very 

The credit for the invention of this last method be- 
longs to a magician, Mr. Edward Benedict of Min- 
neapolis, Minnesota. 



I will here describe a few methods of obtaining a 
name or a question which is written by a sitter, and 
where the sitter usually retains the writing in his own 
possession. The first that I will describe is the most 
improved method known at present, and is almost uni- 
versally used by the professional mediums traveling 
over the country. 

The idea is to get an impression of the writing that 
is not a carbon impression. The impression is, in fact, 
invisible until after it is "developed." The paper used 
is a thin, highly glazed paper. A tablet of this paper 
is provided for the subject to write upon. He can 
make an inspection of the tablet if he so desire, and 
he will find nothing. The operator first prepares a 
few sheets of the paper by rubbing over one side of 
them with wax. Some mediums use paraffin wax, 
which has been melted and mixed with a small amount 
of vaseline. If this wax be used, it must be kneaded 
with the hands while cooling and afterwards pressed 
into cakes. I prefer to use "spermaceti" wax. The 
wax being white, can not be seen on the paper after 
the same has been coated with it. 

The sheet must be laid on a flat, smooth surface 
and thoroughly rubbed over with the wax. This pre- 
pared sheet is generally placed in the tablet two or 
three sheets below the top, coated side down. It should 
be held in place with library paste ; and another pre- 
pared sheet should be similarly placed a little further 
down, to be used in case emergency demands it. 

When the writing is done, an invisible impression 
of it is transferred from the waxed surface of the 
prepared sheet, to the sheet next under it. Of course 


this can not be seen until developed, as the wax is very 
thin and is the color of the paper. After the subject 
writes his questions, and removes the sheet bearing 
them, the operator secures this tablet by almost any 
secret means ; and then he secretly removes the sheet 
bearing the impression and develops it. This is most 
generally done by throwing on the sheet some pow- 
dered charcoal, and shaking the sheet around until 
the powder adheres to the wax, after which the sur- 
plus powder is dusted off. The writing appears plainly 
and may be easily read. Some performers use plum- 
bago, lampblack, or coal dust instead of charcoal. 
Many different powders may be used. The magician 
Mr. Edward Benedict merely holds the wax impression 
over a lighted gas jet moving it about. The flame 
blackens the wax portion which melts and dampens 
the paper where it adheres. If a little camphor be 
held in the flame it will blacken the impression more 

When this trick is used at private readings in apart- 
ments, the operator after the writing usually leads the 
sitter into the next room for a reading. Meanwhile an 
assistant secretly secures the tablet and leaves another 
in its place that is unprepared. Generally the door be- 
tween the two rooms is left open ; and it is only neces- 
sary for the operator to engage the sitter for a moment, 
to give opportunity to the assistant to make the ex- 
change, which can be made in many different ways. 
After the assistant has time to develop the writing, the 
operator leaves the room for a moment on some trifling 
errand and of course secures the information while out 
of the room. 

Sometimes the operator produces a slate message 
for the subject; and then while the subject is inspect- 


ing it secretly exchanges tablets from a large pocket 
in his coat. When this method is used, the operator 
generally pretends to hear some one at his outside 
door; and as his servant fails to respond, he excuses 
himself for a moment, and taking advantage of his ab- 
sence, develops and reads the writing. 
* * * 

I am indebted to an accomplished magician, Mr. 
Gabriel Rasgorshek, for the secret of an excellent 
means of working this trick. It is being successfully 
worked by an expert medium at the present time, and 
Mr. Rasgorshek is thoroughly informed as to the 
means employed. 

The medium gives his readings in a large store 
room. He curtains off the room into three apartments, 
making a large reception room in front, a middle or 
waiting room, and a third room in the rear where is 
concealed an assistant unknown to all callers. He uses 
a twelve-foot cabinet in the center of the rear of the 
middle room, directly against the rear cross curtain. 
The cabinet is merely formed of curtains, and is di- 
vided into two compartments by a curtain partition. 

In one of the compartments of the cabinet is a table, 
a prepared tablet and pencils. This is the room into 
which each sitter is invited by an attendant, to write 
out and prepare his questions, signing his name to 
them. In the large middle or waiting room near the 
walls are seats for callers, and one caller at a time is 
invited to enter the solitary room in the cabinet and 
prepare his questions. The other room in the cabinet 
has a table near the back curtain, with a chair on each 
side of it. In this latter room, on one side of the table 
the medium is seated, giving the readings, slate writ- 
ings, etc. 


The concealed assistant in the rear of the apartments 
secretly reaches through the cabinet curtain into the 
room where the tablet has just been used, and removes 
it, leaving another prepared tablet in its place for the 
next subject. He now develops and reads the ques- 
tions, names, etc. ; copies them neatly on a small card 
and also adds to them information secured from the 
city directory; then placing the card containing the 
copy in a cleft in the end of a stick, pushes it through 
a small slit in the back curtain of the other room in the 
cabinet. This slit is located so that the stick enters 
the cabinet just by the medium's hand behind the 
table. The subject is by this time on the opposite side 
of the table receiving his reading, and the medium 
secretly reads the information. The medium has a 
strong electric light back of him which makes this 
quite easy. The man in the rear apartment must be 
as expert as the medium, and he can by a careful 
search of the directory, and by a reference to notes 
of other readings given to other callers, frequently 
push much information into the view of the medium. 
Meanwhile another subject has been invited into the 
other room in the cabinet to prepare his questions. 

There is also a small cloth tube on the side of the 
table next the medium's hand. This tube runs through 
the rear curtain. In case some one has become unduly 
excited over a reading, and has prepared questions at 
home and returned for a second reading, the medium 
takes them in his hand for a moment, fingering them. 
He keeps on hand a number of folded billets of differ- 
ent styles; so that when he sees the ones the subject 
has, he can secretly secure duplicates in his palm. 
When he fingers the subject's billets, he adroitly ex- 
changes them for his own, and apparently places the 


subject's billets in a book on the table. In reality he 
places the substitutes in the book, "palming" the or- 
iginals, which he sends through the cloth tube to the 
assistant. Very soon they are returned to the hand 
of the medium under the table. He now takes the 
billets from the book, apparently returning them to the 
sitter, but really again substituting, so that the originals 
are returned to the sitter. He conceals the duplicates ; 
and by this time the information begins to come into 
his view beneath the table, and the reading becomes 
very effective. 

There is a means of developing the wax impression 
that I consider superior to the methods given above; 
but I am restrained from making it public by a prom- 
ise of secrecy to the dealer from whom I purchased 
the secret. It can be obtained of George L. Williams 
& Co., 7145 Champlain Avenue, Chicago, 111. The 
method given here, however, works very well, and is 
the one generally used by most mediums ; this secret 
has become common property among mediums and has 
even been published before. In the chapter entitled, 
''Performances of the Annie Eva Fay Type," I will 
give some further information in regard to developing 
these impressions and the methods of using the same. 
This will be of considerable value to the performer. 

A magician, Mr. C. S. Weller of Mitchell, South 
Dakota, has experimented considerably with different 
methods of preparing impression paper and developing 
the impressions. He sometimes prepares the sheets 
with common cocoa butter, and sometimes he saturates 
the paper with a forty per cent, solution of cream and 
water, afterwards stretching the sheets in frames until 
dry. These can be used on a marble-top table, the 
bottom of a porcelain dish, or a marble slab. In this 


case he dusts ultramarine blue on the object bearing 
the impression and then blows it lightly, so that all of 
the powder is blown off except that which adheres to 
the impression. Any of the colored powders may be 
used. Some performers place a prepared sheet on a 
glass plate and another sheet over this for the subject 
to write on. In this case the impression is transferred 
to the glass plate. 

I am acquainted with a lady medium, who, when 
she gives private readings, answers some questions for 
each of the sitters, which they have written and re- 
tained, giving them their correct names, etc. The 
method she uses is very simple, yet she assures me 
that it works most successfully. 

This medium is working in connection with a lady 
"Palmist" who always receives the visitors in the wait- 
ing room. When the visitor arrives, this lady has a 
book in her hands, which she has apparently just been 
reading. There is no furniture in the room except 
some chairs. The lady seats the visitor; and in case 
this person does not desire a "Palm Reading," she 
says, "Madam B — is not quite ready to receive vis- 
itors just now ; you will have to wait a few minutes." 
She then continues, "While you are waiting, just write 
down the questions you wish to ask," and she gives 
the visitor a sheet of paper and a pencil ; and as there 
is no table upon which to write, she also gives this 
person the book which is still in her hand. 

She places the sheet of paper on the back of the 
book and says, "Write the questions you desire an- 
swered on that sheet of paper and keep it. Madam 
B — prefers to have you write them down so you will 


not forget them. Sign your name to them and address 
them to some spirit near to you." 

The subject does as requested, and the lady again 
tells her to "just keep her questions." She now re- 
lieves the visitor of the book. She waits and con- 
verses for a while, and then says, ''I do not see why 
Madam B — does not come. I will go and see if she 
is ready." She retires to the other rooms, and inci- 
dentally takes her book with her. She quickly returns 
with a duplicate book in her hands which the visitor 
thinks is the original, and says, "Madam B — is nearly 
ready, and she will be out in a few moments." She 
converses with the visitor until the medium comes in 
and proceeds to give the reading, which fully answers 
the questions. 

The first book was a new one and had a paper cover 
on the backs. Under this cover, on each back, was 
a carbon sheet, with a sheet of white paper under it. 
When the lady went to see if the medium were ready, 
she left this book with the medium, returning quickly 
with the duplicate. The medium read the impression 
and committed all to memory before entering. 

There are many methods of secretly securing an 
impression of the writing of a sitter. Sometimes, 
where no table is handy, the subject is given an ordin- 
ary "clip board," such as stationers furnish for clamp- 
ing bill-heads and blank papers. This consists of stiff 
pasteboard and a spring clip or clamp. A sheet of 
blank paper is in position held by the clip ; and the 
Vv^riting is transferred from a sheet of copying carbon 
concealed under the mottled paper covering the inside 
of the "clip board," to a sheet of white paper between it 
and the board. The "clip board" is then taken secretly 
by an assistant, or sometimes by the medium who ex- 


cuses himself for a moment on some pretense, after 
adroitly exchanging a concealed "clip board" for the 
prepared one which he also conceals. A sharp knife 
IS then run under the edge of the mottled paper of the 
board separating it therefrom. The carbon is removed 
and the impression read. After this a new blank sheet 
is put on the board, the carbon replaced, all is neatly 
covered by mottled paper which is pasted in position, 
and the "clip board" is again ready for a sitter. 
* * * 

The most common method and the one most gen- 
erally used is a bold "switch" of the paper before the 
eyes of the sitter, when the operator takes it to press 
it against his forehead. When this method is used, 
the medium and subject sit at opposite sides of a table. 
The writing is done on a small card, which is then 
folded two times by the subject. The medium reaches 
and takes it in this condition, and presses it against his 
forehead ; then returns it to the subject to press against 
his own forehead for a time. The operator again takes 
it, and pressing it to his own forehead, gives the read- 

In this method the operator has concealed in his left 
palm a duplicate card folded similarly ; and when he 
takes the card from the subject with his right hand, 
first places it in his left hand directly over the dupli- 
cate. The back of the operator's hand is toward the 
subject so that the cards are concealed from his view. 
Now with a deft move of the fingers, he pushes for- 
ward the duplicate into view, withdrawing the original, 
then fingering it with his right hand he takes the dupli- 
cate and presses it to his own forehead. He next hands 
this duplicate to the subject to press to his head ; and 
meanwhile with his left hand below the table, he se- 


cretly opens and reads the question. The card can be 
opened and folded silently, which is the reason cards 
are used instead of paper. The original is now palmed 
in the left hand, and the former maneuvers are gone 
through with again ; this time handing back to the 
subject his own card. After this the reading is given. 

There is another method of making the ''switch," 
which is in very general use. In this case it is made 
with one hand alone. Soft paper is used instead of 
cards so that it will fold into a smaller space. Proper 
paper can be opened and re-folded silently if care be 
used. The slips are of a uniform size, so that when 
folded they will always be of the same size. The sub- 
ject is instructed how to fold them after he shall finish 
his writing. 

When the operator makes this ''switch," he has a 
duplicate piece of paper inside his right fingers, held 
between the middle and first finger near the end. He 
keeps the back of this hand towards the subject so that 
the duplicate can not be seen; and when he picks up 
from the table the paper that the subject has written 
upon, he deftly draws it from the ends of his fingers 
with his thumb, up into his palm beyond the duplicate, 
and then with his thumb pushes the duplicate into 

With a little practice this "switch" can be made in 
an instant, and the move will escape the subject en- 
tirely. If, at the moment the operator picks up the 
paper, he addresses the subject, the latter will invar- 
iably glance into his face for an instant; just at this 
moment- the right hand deftly makes the "shift" and 
instantly brings the duplicate into the view of the sub- 
ject in a perfectly natural manner, which seems en- 


tirely honest in appearance. He then proceeds with 
whatever method he may prefer in finishing the trick. 

I will next describe two tricks depending entirely 
on this "switch." They are used very extensively by 
the professional mediums of this day in the larger 
cities. The second one I will describe is used by a num- 
ber of the most celebrated mediums of Chicago, such as 
advertise with flaming head-lines in the daily papers. 

In the simplest form the operator seats the subject 
at a large table, facing it, and near the right corner 
of one of its sides. There is nothing on the table but 
a few slips of paper, a Bible, and a bell. The subject 
is instructed to write his questions, fold his paper 
and lay the same on the table, and then to tap the bell 
when ready. 

On hearing the bell the medium enters, steps to the 
table and picks up the billet, at the same instant asking 
the subject if this paper contains his questions, name, 
etc. At this instant, while the subject glances at the 
medium's eyes, the ''shift" is made ; and the operator, 
instantly, opens the Bible with his left hand, and with 
his right apparently inserts the billet between the 
leaves, closing the book. He, of course, inserts the 
duplicate billet, retaining the original in his right 
palm. He now steps to the left side of the subject, 
who remains seated at the table. He faces from the 
table so that his left side is next to the left side of the 
subject, and he instructs the latter to place his hands 
on the Bible. Then the medium places his left palm 
on the subject's head to "establish conditions" ; and as 
he does so he places it rather on the side of the head 
nearest himself, and so that his palm and wrist are 
opposite the left eye of the subject. This prevents 


the subject from turning his face towards the medium, 
or seeing what he is secretly doing. 

The reader must form a good mental picture of their 
positions if he desire to realize the possibilities of this 
trick. The medium has his back to the table and his 
left side to the left of the subject, zvho faces the table. 
They are thus facing in opposite directions ; and while 
the medium now describes his impressions to the sub- 
ject he secretly opens the billet with his right hand and 
reads it. His right hand is behind the range of vision 
of the subject, and is also concealed from the view of 
the latter by the medium's person and left hand, which 
latter is pressed against the upper left side of the sub- 
ject's head. 

He now folds it again, placing it in position between 
the ends of the first and second fingers ; and turning 
he opens the Bible, taking out the billet and apparently 
presenting it to the subject. He asks the subject to 
hold it to his own head ; and of course he gives the 
subject the original billet, secretly "palming" the sub- 
stitute at the same time. 

Next he places his hand on the subject's head, and 
gives the reading, answering the subject's questions, 
giving his name, etc. 

* * * 

In the next trick, which is slightly more complicated, 
five slips of paper are used. The medium addresses 
the subject somewhat as follows: "You came here for 
me to help you. You are in trouble, or worried about 
something, else you would not be here. Now I desire 
to help you if I can. I charge one dollar, and I answer 
four questions. It is necessary for you to ask these 
questions if you want me to be certain to answer them. 
If I were to proceed of my own accord, I might give 


you something which you would not care for; there- 
fore I will ask you to write your questions on these 
four slips of paper, writing only on one side of the 
paper, and folding them twice with the writing inside. 
On the fifth slip write your name, occupation, and ad- 
dress. Now write questions which, if answered will 
be a benefit to you, something that will do you some 
good. Let one be about business matters, another 
about love or family matters, etc. If you desire results 
that will benefit you, write your questions openly, giv- 
ing the names of all persons concerned, in a straight- 
forward and honest manner. When they are written, 
folded, and all is ready, tap the bell." The medium 
now retires until he hears the bell. 

The subject invariably complies with all conditions. 
When the operator enters, he immediately takes the 
billets, one at a time, as they lie on the table, and 
crimps or folds them an additional time. He does this 
hurriedly, as if he desires them to be very securely 
folded. Of course he "switches" the last one, leaving 
a "dummy" in its place, and secretly retaining the or- 
iginal in his right palm. 

He now takes the same position as m the previous 
trick, with his back to the table, left side to the left side 
of the sitter, hand on the sitter's head, etc. He then 
asks the subject to "make a wish" while he is "estab- 
lishing conditions." While the subject is thinking of 
a wish, the medium secretly opens the billet with his 
right hand, reading and re-folding it as in the other 
trick. He now remarks, "Have you made a wish?" 
On being answered in the affirmative, he replies, "That 
wish will not be entirely fulfilled." He now turns, 
and picking up one of the billets, apparently hands it 
to the subject, requesting him to hold it to his own 


head. Of course he changes the billets again, hand- 
ing the subject the one he has just secretly read, and 
retaining in his palm the new one. He requests the 
subject to hold it to his own head with one hand, and 
to lay his other hand on the Bible. 

The medium now places his palm on the side of the 
subject's head as in the preceding trick, and with his 
right hand secretly opens and reads the second billet, 
memorizing it. As he does this he is verbally answering 
the question on the first billet, which the subject is now 
holding to his head. If the first question was, ''Shall I 
make a certain investment in mining stocks, etc.," the 
medium says, ''I see you contemplate investing in 
mines, etc., etc. This will not prove a profitable in- 
vestment ; you should by no means do this. I see 
there is another opportunity coming to you for an 
investment, that will be much safer, etc., etc. Now, 
sir, open the question you are holding to your fore- 
head, and see if I have answered it correctly." 

Aleanwhile the medium has secretly read the second 
question, and the billet bearing it is in position between 
his fingers. He now picks up another billet apparently 
giving it to the subject to hold as in the first case. Of 
course he gives the subject the second one which he 
has just secretly read, and retains in his palm the new 
one. While he answers the second question, which 
may pertain to love or family affairs, he again secretly 
reads the question in his right palm. 

After answering the question, the subject is directed 
to open his billet and see if it be correctly answered ; 
and the medium turns and picks up another one, ap- 
parently presenting it to him. This is continued until 
all of the questions are answered, and the subject's 
name, occupation, etc., given. 


At the last billet, which is the "dummy," the medium 
again makes the "shift," retaining the dummy and 
giving the subject the last genuine billet. This time he 
leaves the side of the subject, and answers the question 
correctly without contact with him. This trick is very 
effective and gives the greatest satisfaction to the 
medium's patrons. 

* * ^: 

There are so many methods of gaining knowledge 
of what a sitter secretly writes that it is impossible to 
give them all here. It is safe to say that in any case 
where the subject is required to write anything, that 
there is always a secret means of gaining knowledge of 
the writing. In such cases no information is ever 
given except such as could be inferred from the writ- 
ing, or such as can be given by shrewd guesswork. 

I know one medium who wears a skull cap when 
giving a reading. It is made of black silk ; and in the 
top of it, held in place by a lining of oil cloth, is a 
sponge saturated with odorless alcohol. The subject 
writes his questions on a card and seals it in an enve- 
lope. The medium and spectator sit at opposite sides 
of a table, and the operator now takes the envelope, 
and presses it on top of his head directly over the 
hidden sponge. The alcohol renders the envelope 
transparent; and after a moment the medium brings 
the envelope in front of his eyes, with its upper edge 
resting against his forehead, and there reads the ques- 
tion. He is near-sighted and this is quite easy for him. 

He holds it in this position while he talks to the 
subject, until the alcohol evaporates and the envelope 
assumes its natural appearance. He then gives the 
reading and returns the envelope unopened. This is 
a very impresssive trick. The use of odorless alcohol 


for such purpose is well known in some quarters, but 
I think this method of using it is not generally known 
at present. The envelope never leaves the sitter's sight 
and the experiment appears very marvelous. 

Other means of securing information from writing 
are sometimes adopted, but they are complicated and 
in some cases require a very expert operator. Dr. 
Schlessinger referred to elsewhere in this volume 
seemed to be able to so manipulate his subjects as to 
secure much information from the writing in the 
most concealed manner ever known. I merely men- 
tion this that the reader may be on his guard in any 
case where the subject writes anything whatever, and 
where the operator claims to secure knowledge of 
such writing through the assistance of spirits of the 


I will here describe a few slate tricks wherein the 
subject takes his own slates (usually marked) with 
him. In the first case I am about to describe, the 
medium is supposed to be in his own home where 
things can be arranged for the business. The subject 
comes with two slates either tied, screwed together, 
or with merely a single slate. 

In this instance the medium does not even look at 
the slates which the sitter brings. He merely directs the 
subject to lay the slates well under a rather large and 
heavy library or center table. This table has a large 
heavy cover or drape. When the subject does this 
he is directed to take a seat at this table and place 
his palms thereon. 

The medium usually stands and places his palms on 
the opposite side of the table, and for a time interests 


the subject in conversation. During this time an as- 
sistant in a low room under the floor silently pushes 
up a small and well-concealed trap in the floor and 
carpet. This trap is directly under the table, the carpet 
is cut very neatly over the cuts in the floor, and is left 
tacked in position. He takes the slates inside with 
him leaving others of the same appearance in their 
place. As soon as the message is ready he again 
changes the slates and hooks the trap shut from under- 
neath so it will be solid. As the carpet is tacked along 
the cut, there is no danger of the sitter discovering 
anything of the kind, should such an idea enter his 

There is a variation of this trick that is far superior 
to it. In this case the medium takes the subject into 
a very light room, bare, of blinds, carpet, and furniture, 
except a curtain cabinet across a corner ; a small simple 
table is in the cabinet, and two chairs are in the room 
near the only door. 

The walls and ceiling are papered, and the floor can 
be seen so easily, that any one thinking of such an 
idea could plainly see that there are no traps in it. It 
can also be seen that there are none in walls or base- 
board, which in this room is too narrow to admit a per- 
son through any trap which might be concealed in it. 

The table and cabinet are thoroughly inspected, and 
then the subject lays his own slates on the table in the 
cabinet and draws the curtains. He takes a seat with 
the medium near the door, and after a time goes into 
the cabinet and examines his marked slates. They 
are covered with messages both inside and outside. 

The effect of this is simply beyond description. It is 
accomplished in a very simple manner. The secret is 
a trap in the ceiling which is masked by a heavy dark 


border of the ceiling paper. It is hooked up solidly by 
a strong hook opposite its hinges, and the curtains of 
the cabinet extend too high for its operation to be seen 
from outside the cabinet. The ceiling is too high to 
be inspected by the subject, and in fact he never thinks 
of it. An assistant from the room above opens the trap, 
which is padded, and reaching down a long rod with 
a grip on the end of it, draws up the slates and pre- 
pares them. 

It adds to the effect if the medium have a music 
box in the room, which plays during the wait. This 
also hides any noises. This is the same trap that a 
noted medium of San Francisco has used for mate- 
rializing. He has many assistants and much parapher- 
nalia. The ''spirits" descend and ascend on a padded 
ladder which is slipped down from above. The me- 
dium to whom I refer is probably the greatest in the 
world at materializing; and his assistants are so good 
at "making up," that any noted character can be "ma- 
terialized" in a few moments. 

When this trap is used for slate writing, and if the 
subject comes with a single slate, it is sometimes placed 
in a shallow box and the box locked and sealed. The 
box is of wood, is about an inch thick and just large 
enough to take in a slate. There is a secret sliding 
panel in the box which can be slipped out by the assist- 
ant to permit the writing. If no panel is used then a 
slate pencil is inserted within the box on the slate be- 
fore locking. The pencil is made as follows : A round 
piece of soft iron is coated with powdered chalk or pul- 
verized slate pencil mixed in a little glue. In this case 
the writing is done by manipulating a powerful magnet 
on the outside of the box. The soft iron core of the 


pencil is drawn by the magnet, making the marks with 
its outside coating. 

* 5f: * 

At one time a marvelous medium appeared in a 
neighboring city, giving slate writings in so mysterious 
a manner that it caused considerable talk and discus- 
sion among the thinking men of that community. A 
certain reporter called for a slate writing and was 
greatly mystified. 

This reporter took his own slate with him, which 
he marked. The medium merely placed it on the floor 
in the room where they sat, and it never left the sight 
of the reporter; yet after a time it was examined and 
a message found thereon. 

The medium then stated to this reporter that he 
would forfeit twenty-five dollars if he could not pro- 
duce a message for any individual whatever without 
the slate (which said person could bring with him) 
leaving that individual's sight. 

This was a pretty bold challenge ; so the reporter 
decided to take a certain gentleman who was a friend 
of his, and by-the-way an expert magician, to this 
medium for a slate writing. The gentleman selected 
was Dr. A. M. Wilson of Kansas City, Mo., editor of 
the magician's journal. The Sphinx, and to whom I 
am indebted for the secret of this impressive trick. 

Dr. Wilson purchased and took a slate with him, 
which he marked. On his arrival the medium insisted 
on taking the slate and laying it on the floor. The 
Doctor did not object to this, as he felt sure that the 
medium would be unable to divert his attention from 
the slate for a single instant. I will mention that a 
large piece of furniture — a kind of wardrobe — stood 
against the wall on the side of the room to the left of 


the Doctor. There was also, between the Doctor and 
the near side of this wardrobe, a large upholstered 
chair which partly concealed from his view a portion 
of the lower part of the wardrobe. 

The medium laid the slate on the floor a little dis- 
tance in front of this wardrobe and then began a rapid 
discourse to the Doctor on spiritual science. He grew 
very excited and kept pacing the floor, advancing to a 
position near the Doctor and then returning to the far 
end of the room. As he made these pilgrimages up 
and down the room, he came near stepping on the slate 
as it lay in his way ; so with his foot he pushed it 
slightly toward the wardrobe at each journey. Mean- 
while he seemed to forget about the slate so intent was 
he on his lecture. 

Had he been able to control the attention of the Doc- 
tor so as to ''hold his eye" when secretly shoving the 
slate with his foot, as he would have been able to do 
with ordinary persons, all would have gone well. The 
Doctor, however, was not so interested in the lecture 
as he was in the slate ; and he saw it gradually worked 
nearer to the wardrobe at each excursion of the me- 
dium, until it was partly under this piece of furniture. 

The Doctor now interposed and remarked to the 
medium that this performance had gone far enough ; 
that his challenge was to produce a message without 
the slate leaving his sight, and that the slate was now 
nearly out of view. The medium grew very angry 
and stormed at the Doctor, but all to no avail. Finally 
the Doctor said to him that he himself was a magician 
and a performer of such tricks ; that he did not intend 
exposing him, so that he might just as well confess. 
The medium hesitated a moment and then, laughing, 
said "Boys, you are too much for me. I own up." He 


then conducted them to the room adjoining theirs, 
where sat the medium's assistant waiting to perform 
his part of the trick. A small slot had been cut through 
the base-board adjoining the floor. This slot was 
directly underneath the wardrobe in the adjoining 
room. The assistant had an old-fashioned *'soot 
scraper" such as is used for cleaning out the bottom 
of the old-time cooking stoves. With this useful article 
his task was to reach through the slot and draw or 
scrape the slate through the slot in the wall, and shove 
a duplicate into view while he wrote the message. 
When this was finished he drew back the duplicate and 
pushed the original slate into view. 

When this was all over, the medium, finishing his 
discourse, would be suddenly reminded of the slate, 
look for it, and see it just out from under the ward- 
robe ; then lifting it from the floor he would triumph- 
antly hand it with its message to the sitter. The busi- 
ness was quite lucrative. 

At another time a wonderful medium appeared m 
the same city and gave psychometric tests in a public 
hall to those bringing articles with them. The tests 
were very marvelous, and the medium carried away 
thousands of dollars. 

All of this information was furnished to the medium 
by two prominent gentlemen in Kansas City, who knew 
nearly every one who attended spiritualist meetings. 
One of these gentlemen received a very fine test ; and 
the medium, looking at him, said, "Did I ever see you 
before?" And the gentleman said, "You did not." 
Now, Dr. Wilson happened to know that at the time 
the medium was actually stopping at the home of this 
gentleman, who feigned that he was a total stranger 
to the medium. 


Much of the work of mediums is performed in an 
impromptu or extempore manner. They must be fa- 
miHar with the various tricks, but can not invariably 
follow any fixed rule. They must perform one way 
for one subject, and maybe in a wholly different man- 
ner for another. I can not better illustrate the extem- 
poraneous nature of their work, than by describing 
two slate writings given by a professional medium 
whom I know. 

Mediums are continually working for what they 
term ''cases." This is where the medium exerts his 
spiritual influence in behalf of the subject in some 
matter, and for which he receives usually a goodly 
sum. Most ardent believers have some matter wherein 
they need assistance; and they usually employ a me- 
dium, if he impresses them properly, and if they believe 
implicitly in his powers. 

There was an elderly gentleman who had repeatedly 
received slate writings from this medium, but never on 
slates of his own. The medium had been prevailing 
on this elderly gentleman to give him his "case," but 
the gentleman had no means of his own. He could 
only secure the necessary sum of money from his son- 
in-law, and the latter refused to let him have it, saying 
that all mediums were fraudulent ; and that he would 
never advance the funds, unless the gentleman should 
secure a slate writing on his own slates. 

Of this the gentleman informed the medium, and he 
then made an appointment with the medium for a cer- 
tain evening that week. This gentleman had a spirit- 
ualistic book that dealt with an 'Tndian Spirit Guide," 
and some similar matters that interested him greatly, 
and over which he was very enthusiastic. This book 


he loaned to the medium to read, at the time when he 
made the appointment. 

The old gentleman, at the proper time, went to a 
store and purchased two slates, carrying them to the 
home of the medium wrapped and tied in the original 
paper of the stationer. Meanwhile the medium had 
instructed his confederate, who was concealed in the 
adjoining yard. It was summer time and the medium's 
windows were open. A center table stood by an open 

When the gentleman arrived, the medium directed 
him to lay his package on the table and to give him 
his attention for a few moments. The medium was 
reading in the "Indian Spirit" book, and seemed to 
greatly desire to discuss certain passages with the gen- 
tleman. A chair was placed so that the gentleman's 
back was towards the table ; and as he was very enthu- 
siastic over the aforesaid book, he became deeply inter- 
ested in the discussion. Meanwhile the confederate, 
who had seen the gentleman arrive, reached secretly 
through the open window, drew the slates out, untied 
them, wrote a message, re-tied and replaced them. 
When the medium saw them again in place on the 
table, he said to the gentleman, "You want a message 
on your own slates. I suppose you have them there. Of 
course you know that there is nothing on them ; so 
just get them and hold them in your lap, still tied up." 
This the subject did. After a time the medium asked 
the gentleman to look and see if he had received any- 

The gentleman could only walk with a cane, and had 
not gone without one for years. When he saw his 
message, he became so excited that he immediately 
started to his son-in-law's home in Council Bluffs, to 


show his message in triumph; and in his excitement 
he never thought of his cane, and walked several 
blocks to the car line without it, and did not recover 
it for three days. I know the name of the confederate 
who wrote the message, and he is a resident of Omaha. 
The medium secured the gentleman's "case" without 
trouble after this. 

I know another instance where this same medium 
sold to a business man of Omaha, who happened to 
be a believer, a girdle which he should wear and which 
would increase his business twenty per cent. He paid 
sixteen dollars for this girdle. I have secured one of 
these and have it in my possession. 
* >k ^ 

At another time a gentleman had repeatedly received 
slate-writings from this medium, but decided to in- 
vestigate further and bring his own slates. Now, 
mediums are not looking for patrons of this class, and 
only give them a sitting where there is considerable 
money or some good advertising to be gained thereby. 
At this time the medium had rooms in a business block. 
The believer moved into this block, taking a room on 
the floor above the medium, in order to be near him 
and have good opportunity to conduct his investiga- 

The medium was not anxious ; and although the 
gentleman came repeatedly with his own slates tied 
up in paper, always managed to put him off in some 
manner, saying that conditions were not right or some- 
thing of the kind. Finally one day the medium saw 
the gentleman leave his rooms on some errand ; and 
securing a pass key, he entered the gentleman's room, 
untied the slates, prepared a message, re-tying them 
and leaving all as before. He knew if the gentleman 


should make an examination and find the message, he 
would attribute it to ''spirits," so he took the chance. 
In due time the gentleman walked in with his slates 
still tied and under his arm. He had not opened them, 
and he received a message that completely satisfied all 
of his previous doubts. 

I also know of an instance where a medium stopped 
at the home of a believer over night. He was left 
alone in the room a short time while the host was busy 
elsewhere. During this time he succeeded in locating 
the host's slates (most believers have a set) tied up 
neatly in a bureau drawer. He quickly prepared a 
message, and again tied them up as before. Later he 
asked for some slates, and when they were brought 
out asked the host to hold them just as they were. 
His success was so great that he was paid a goodly 
fee ; and this led to many "readings" by mail and quite 
frequently brought the medium a ten dollar bill in a 
letter, as the gentleman was wealthy. This gentleman 
lives in a small town about thirty miles from Omaha. 

In case a medium or his assistant secretly obtains 
possession of a sitter's slates in a manner such as de- 
scribed in the first part of this number or by any other 
method, and they are securely screwed or fastened 
together, he may proceed with any of the methods 
given below. 

If the two slates are screwed together, the assistant 
opens them with a screw-driver and replaces the screws 
after writing the message. If the screws are sealed, 
he may be able to remove the wax by passing a heated 
wire under the seals, and afterwards replace them with 
a small hot iron which he keeps over an alcohol flame 
for such purposes. If he is wholly unable to get into 
the slates, he then drives a small wedge between the 


frames, spreading them a trifle, and inserts a corset 
steel with a small pencil at the end and does the writing 
with this. 

If everything else fail, a message can be written on 
the outer sides of the slates, and there will be some 
effect ; although the effect will be nothing like it would 
be if the message were inside. 

In case a pencil can not be inserted between the 
slates with a corset steel, sometimes the message is 
written on a slip of paper and this can be slipped in 
rather easily. 


There is another case where a message is produced 
on a marked slate brought by a subject. In this case 
there is no assistant and the slate never leaves the 
sitter's hand. He is instructed to place his slate under 
and near the center of a small table, to press it up 
against the table and to hold it by the edges only. 
In a short time a message is found. In this case the 
message is printed by the medium pressing a rubber 
stamp containing it (and which is previously covered 
with powdered chalk), against the slate while under 
the table. 

This stamp is made from a message written out by 
the medium, so that it looks like ordinary writing. 
It is attached to a rubber elastic under the medium's 
coat; and the chalk on its letters is not disturbed 
owing to the fact that the medium has a tin case or 
guard on his trousers at the top on one side. 

The stamp is held in this tin guard or clamp until 
the slate is under the table. The medium pretends 
to feel under the table to see if the slate is in the right 
position. He secretly carries the stamp up in his hand, 


presses it quickly against the slate, then removing his 
hand, releases the stamp. It is drawn quickly out of 
sight by the elastic under his coat, just like a hand- 
kerchief vanisher used by a magician. The medium 
has a number of stamps each bearing different mes- 
sages, so that he can select a suitable one for each 


* * * 

As I write this chapter, there is a medium about 
one hundred miles west of Omaha who is traveling 
around giving slate writings. His method is very 
simple but is perfectly successful. 

He is very expert at talking, and can hold a sub- 
ject's attention in a marvelous manner. During the 
entire experiment he talks constantly, with great rapid- 
ity, and greatly interests the subject. 

He uses three slates, but the subject sees and exam- 
ines but two. The third slate, with the message, is 
in a large pocket on the inside of his right coat front. 
He has the slates examined ; and during this time he 
is nervously walking behind the subject, and then in 
front of him, tapping him on the shoulders, and talking 
rapidly. He takes the two examined slates and places 
them together, and stepping behind, the medium ap- 
parently places them on the subject's head, requesting 
him to reach up and grasp them. He immediately 
steps to the front without any cessation in his dis- 
course, and completely controls the subject's attention ; 
so that the latter thinks nothing of the fact that the 
medium passed back of him, and in fact soon for- 
gets it. 

Just as the medium steps back of the subject, he 
quickly takes the back slate with his left hand and 
leaves it in his large pocket, and instantly draws out 


and substitutes the prepared slate. He does this so 
quickly, without any pause in his walking or talking, 
that he never fails with the trick. 

If a medium be a lady, she has many opportunities 
for slate writing that a male medium does not have. 
She can have so many large pockets in her skirts, and 
can so easily conceal and exchange slates under a 
table and in so many ways, that it is very hard to de- 
tect the exact means she may use. One lady medium 
had a mechanical rapper under her skirts which rapped 
loudly on the floor when she pressed her knees to- 
gether. She could thus have the ''spirits" announce 
in this mysterious manner when a message was com- 

There are also means for using secret panels, if a 
subject allow his slates near one, or even near any 
draperies ; and in fact, there are so many secret means, 
that the only way a subject can be sure of a genuine 
slate writing is to have his own slates and never let 
them out of his hands or sight for even one instant 
after cleaning them. I do not think anyone will ever 
obtain such a writing. 

* * * 

There are also chemical tricks, although they are 
not so much used. If a message be prepared with 
nitrate of silver, and then breathed upon, it will vanish. 
If the slate be washed with salt water, the message 
appears but can not be erased. There are also dozens 
of chemicals for writing invisible messages on paper, 
which will appear from heat, or from the application 
of a blotter saturated with other chemicals. If a mes- 
sage be written on paper with a solution of sulphate 
of iron, it is invisible. If the paper be placed in an 
envelope moistened inside with a solution of nut-galls, 


the writing appears. The paper can be placed between 
slates just washed with the same solution, and the 
writing will soon be visible. 

There are slate writing mediums such as Slade, who 
can use the toes for writing messages on slates laid 
on the floor under the table. The medium wears a 
shoe that he can slip off the foot easily, and the end 
of the stocking is cut away. There are also slate 
writers who write with a small piece of pencil held 
on the end of a single finger by a little piece of flesh 
colored court plaster with a hole in its center. In 
such cases the message is written while the hand 
pinches the slate up under the table. There is a 
thimble used, sometimes, with holders attached con- 
taining colored crayons ; but it requires an expert to 
use it. Messages can be written on paper by the 
''court-plaster method" while holding the paper or card 
in the hand and waving it about. 

In many of the slate tricks where an assistant is used, 
a system of speaking tubes can be employed with 
wonderful results if the medium be in his own home. 
The openings are concealed by picture molding, dra- 
peries, etc. They enable the assistant to hear all the 
information the medium gets from the subject during 
the reading, and he can thus prepare a more effective 
message. These same tubes can be utilized by the 
medium for producing ''independent" whispers and 
voices in a room where he holds a circle. By the use 
of switches the voices appear to be first here, then 
there, or can even enter at all of the openings at once. 
Sound is very deceptive, and in the last case it appears 
to be in the very air. 

There are many slate tricks that I have not described 
here ; but I have endeavored to give the best, and 


also to give a good example of the different types, 
which will well illustrate the principles employed. 

In reference to information furnished by mediums 
in slate writings or otherwise, there are so many means 
of obtaining the same, that it is difficult to be certain 
of a test of this kind. The "Blue Book" of Boston 
contains over seven thousand names alphabetically cata- 
logued, with tests for each individual. Some of the 
names are marked with such marks as "D. E." (dead 
easy), etc. 

Information is gathered from tombstones, old files 
of the daily papers and even by an advance agent who 
does secret detective work for that purpose. The most 
information used in circles, however, is obtained in the 
private readings given by the mediums. This is all 
catalogued, and used with telling effect. 


NOT long ago I received a letter from an old time 
friend, in which he urgently requested me to make 
a journey to his city. In by-gone days he and I had 
spent many hours together, discussing the mysteries 
of existence, the hidden powers which nature manifests 
to us, and the origin and destiny of the human soul. 
My friend is a physician, and what is more, an earnest 
student ; and he is also an investigator of that strange 
phenomenon in nature which manifests itself in organ- 
ized beings subjectively, as thought, feeling and things 

Many times had we discussed the possibility and also 
the probability of an existence of the spiritual part of 
man after death. Many times had he reported to me 
cases of strange phenomena that tended to prove the 
indestructibility of spirit. 

When I received this missive, it stated to me that 
the writer most earnestly desired my presence in his 
city, that I might assist in investigating a very strange 
and marvelous case of psychic phenomena. The case 
was that of a certain traveling spirit medium, who 
claimed the power to summon from the realms of the 
invisible, the shades of our departed friends and loved 
ones. He gave most marvelous exhibitions to prove 


his strange and miraculous power. My friend stated 
that he thought he had at last found a person with at 
least some queer psychical gift, if not even possessing 
the power that he claimed. He had watched the ex- 
hibition most carefully, and had even served on a com- 
mittee on the psychic's stage; and he could find no 
evidence of trickery of any kind. He was inclined to 
believe that this strange being really possessed the 
power of vision without the use of human eyes as he 
certainly read sealed missives, of which he could in 
no secret manner have obtained knowledge. 

Accordingly, on Saturday evening, I journeyed to 
a city one hundred miles away to witness the work of 
this modern sorcerer. On my arrival I suggested to 
my friend a number of ways by which such things 
could be performed by trickery, but he informed me 
that none of my explanations seemed to elucidate this 
strange work. The secret did not consist in the use 
of odorless alcohol, for the reason that the medium 
never touched the sealed envelopes at all. In fact he 
was never nearer to them than ten feet. This also 
made it impossible for him to use the principle on 
which the trick is based, which is known to the profes- 
sion as "Washington Irving Bishop's Sealed Letter 

He informed me that sheets of paper or cards were 
passed to the spectators in the audience, and at the 
same time envelopes in which to seal their questions 
were furnished for them; that the spectators wrote 
questions as directed, many times signing their own 
names to them. He was certain that many persons 
folded their written questions before sealing them, and 
that the operator himself did not even collect the en- 
velopes on many occasions. He informed me that the 


best evidence of the genuineness of the performance, 
lay in the fact that the medium seemed to have no 
fixed conditions for his experiments; but seemed to 
perform them in a different manner on each occasion. 
The conditions were different in every case, yet he 
always read the questions with the most marvelous cer- 

I thought the matter over after this, but could in 
no way think of any plausible means of accomplishing 
his work by trickery. I finally decided to wait and see 
the performance first, and to figure afterwards on the 
method employed. 

Accordingly, at eight o'clock that evening I was 
seated in the hall with my friend, and shortly after- 
wards the ''Seer" made his appearance, taking his seat 
on the stage. He was a very slender personage, with 
long hair and a particularly ghostly look. He took 
his seat quietly on the stage. In a short time his man- 
ager appeared and made an opening address, which I 
will not repeat, and then asked some boy in the audi- 
ence to pass cards around to the spectators on which 
they were to write questions. Envelopes were also 
distributed, in which to seal the cards. When the 
writing was finished, the manager asked any boy to 
take a hat which he held in his hand, and collect the 
sealed envelopes. After the boy, whom every one 
knew to be a local resident, kindly volunteered for this 
service and executed it, a committee was invited to the 
stage to properly blindfold the medium. This was 
done in a satisfactory manner, and the committee then 
returned to the audience. The manager now led the 
blindfolded medium to the rear of the stage, where he 
was seated somewhat behind a table, on which were 
some flowers, a music box, etc. However, the medium 


was in view plainly ; and he never removed the band- 
age from his eyes or in any manner molested it. 

When the boy came on the stage directly from the 
front with the hat full of sealed envelopes, the manager 
placed a handkerchief over the hat and asked the boy 
to take a seat near the front of the stage facing the 
audience. He was also directed to hold the hat in his 
lap, and to deliver the envelopes to the manager, one 
at a time, as he should call for them. 

The operator now delivered a lecture, lasting some 
ten or fifteen minutes, explaining the strange powers 
of the blindfolded medium, who sat at the rear of the 
stage in full view; while the boy still maintained the 
seat at the front of the stage, and held the hat of en- 
velopes in sight of all. 

After the lecture, the manager requested the boy to 
give him one of the envelopes, which the boy did. The 
manager did not look towards it in any manner; but 
took it in the tips of his right fingers, held it in the 
air, and asked the medium to give the writer of this 
question a test. The medium shivered a few times, 
allowed his frame to convulse slightly, and thus began : 
'T feel the influence of one who was a brother. I 
get the name of Clarence. Will the one who wrote 
this question identify it as his?" There was no re- 
sponse from the spectators, and the medium asked 
again that the writer speak out. Still silence greeted 
his request ; when suddenly he pointed his bony finger 
into the crowd, while his blinded face confronted them, 
and exclaimed: "Mr. John H — , why do you not 
respond to your test?" A gentleman in the audience 
then acknowledged the test as his. The medium then 
continued: "Clarence was drowned. I sense the cold 
chilly water as it envelopes his form." At this the 


lady sitting with the gentleman began to cry. The 
medium continued: "The drowning was wholly an 
accident. There was no foul play. Now, Mr. H — , 
have I answered your question, and are you satisfied 
with your test?" The gentleman, a well-known citi- 
zen, acknowledged that he was perfectly satisfied. 

The manager then laid the envelope on a small table 
and asked the boy for another one. The boy gave him 
another from the hat when the blindfolded medium, 
ten feet or more distant, gave the second test. 

He shivered again and began: "I feel the influence 
of a young lady who died suddenly. She says, 'Sister 
Mary, I am very happy, and death was not so hard to 
endure. I want you to consult a good honorable at- 
torney, and take his advice in the law suit you ask me 
about.' " The medium then continued, "Miss L — , 
your sister regards you with a look of great tenderness 
and love. Are you satisfied with your test ?" A lady 
then replied that she certainly was entirely convinced. 

The manager now laid this sealed envelope beside 
the other one and again called for another. This was 
continued until all of the envelopes in the hat were re- 
moved and the questions answered. None of the en- 
velopes were opened. In some instances the medium 
first read the questions, word for word before answer- 
ing them ; and when he did so, he described the writing 
minutely, even the formation of the strokes of the 

After all of these tests were given, the medium re- 
moved the blindfold and seemed much exhausted. Then 
the tables were removed to one side of the stage, and 
a cabinet erected ; after which some cabinet manifesta- 
tions that were very interesting were given. When 
these were over, the manager collected the sealed en- 


velopes from the table, and placed them on the front 
of the stage, inviting the writers to call, should they so 
desire, and get their questions. Some availed them- 
selves of this opportunity and tore open a number of 
the envelopes until they found their own questions. 
The audience seemed greatly impressed with this ex- 
hibition, and the next day it was the talk of the town. 

On the next evening I again repaired to the public 
hall to witness, and if possible, fathom this perform- 
ance. This time, however, I found that an entirely 
different method was employed. Envelopes and slips 
of paper were distributed ; and after the questions were 
written and sealed the manager went about the room, 
gathering them up in a small black bag with a draw- 
string around its top. As he gathered up each one, 
and while the writer still held it, he gave to that per- 
son a number which was to serve as that particular 
person's number during the tests. At the same time 
the manager marked the number on the subject's en- 
velope, while the subject held it, drawing a circle 
around the figure, after which the subject dropped the 
envelope into the sack. 

When all were collected, the operator took the sack 
in the tips of his fingers, and holding it aloft, walked 
up the run-way to the stage where a cord hung from 
a screw-eye fastened in the ceiling above. The other 
end of the cord was attached to a piece of furniture 
on the stage. The manager now attached the black 
bag containing the envelopes to the end of this string, 
and then taking the other end, drew the bag up to the 
ceiling near the screw-eye, where it remained in full 
view during the tests. 

While the manager was doing all this, the ghost-like 


medium had been walking about the stage, reading in 
a large Bible. He now laid the Bible on a table and 
advanced to the front of the stage, while the manager 
delivered a lecture on spiritual philosophy and also on 
the strange power of the medium. After this the man- 
ager announced that the medium would hold a Bible 
service, during which time he would give the tests. 

The medium now took his Bible, and seating himself 
in a chair facing the audience, began by reading a 
verse. After this he closed his eyes for a time, and 
then gave the first test. He began : *'I will give these 
tests in the order in which the manager gave you your 
numbers, commencing with number one. Now, Mrs. 
Clara S — , I see standing near you an elderly lady, 
somewhat stooped ; but I can not see her face plainly. 
She seems to be your mother. She says to tell you 
that your son is doing well where he is, and for you 
not to worry, for he will return to you in time. Are 
you satisfied?" A lady in the audience was visibly 
affected, and acknowledged that the medium had an- 
swered her question correctly. The medium read an- 
other verse in the Bible, after which he gave the second 
test in a manner similar to the way in which he had 
given the first one. After this he read another verse, 
and so continued until all the questions in the sack 
were answered. The manager now lowered the sack, 
and emptying the envelopes into a small basket dis- 
tributed them unopened to their writers. 

The effect of this exhibition was fully as great as 
was that of the former one, and the medium continued 
to be the wonder of the town. 

On the next evening I again attended the meeting. 
On this occasion questions were written and sealed as 


on the former occasions. This time the medium was 
dressed as a ''Mahatma," wearing a large turban. As 
soon as the questions were written, the manager col- 
lected them in a small wicker basket, and emptied them 
on a table on the stage. He only talked for a moment, 
describing what the medium would do. During all this 
time the medium was seated near the front of the 
stage. The medium now tapped a little bell he held in 
his hand, as if summoning the spirits, and began giv- 
ing the tests in the most marvelous manner. He 
seemed somewhat nervous, and finally arose and walked 
across the stage, stopped a moment and then continued 
his walk. Meanwhile he kept giving the tests. Oc- 
casionally he would walk about nervoulsy, and some- 
times he would seat himself in the chair for a time : 
but he kept right on giving test after test, with perfect 
accuracy, while the sealed envelopes remained in full 
view on the table. During this time, and in fact during 
the time the audience was writing the questions, neither 
the medium nor the manager had ever left the sight of 
the spectators for even an instant. 

After all the tests were given, the medium, very 
much exhausted, fell on a couch on the stage; while 
the manager scooped the envelopes back into the bas- 
ket, and then distributed them to their writers in an 
unopened condition. 

I will now explain how this "occultist" gave these 
various billet tests. 


We will first refer to the tests given the first evening. 
A boy from the audience gathered up the sealed en- 
velopes in a hat, and brought them to the stage, sitting 
with them in his lap ; while he delivered one at a time 


to the manager, who held it aloft, during which time 
the blindfolded medium in the rear gave the test. 

There was a simple little move that escaped the eyes 
of the spectators in this instance. The spectators did 
not know what was to happen, neither did the boy. 
The move was executed as follows: Just as the boy 
came on the stage with the hat the manager received 
the hat in his right hand and in a natural manner. 
Nothing was thought of this, as there was nothing sus- 
picious in the act. Meanwhile the manager directed 
the boy to take a chair that sat to the left of the front 
of the stage, and to place it to the right side in front, 
facing the audience, and to take his seat thereon. Now, 
this conversation with the boy naturally occupied the 
attention of the spectators ; and while the boy was exe- 
cuting the directions the manager turned to the table, 
which was somewhat back on the stage, and apparently 
took a large handkerchief from it, and with the hat 
still apparently in his hand, he stepped to the boy, 
giving him the hat of envelopes and the handkerchief, 
at the same time instructing him how to cover the hat, 
and how to deliver the envelopes one at a time. All 
of this maneuvering seemed so natural that the audi- 
ence thought nothing whatever of it. 

Now, as the manager turned to the table to get the 
handkerchief, and while most eyes were on the boy 
as he placed his chair and took his seat, the manager 
deftly exchanged the hat in his right hand for another 
hat just like it, that was filled with "dummy" envelopes 
and which was behind the flowers, music box, etc., on 
the table. As he immediately turned with the hat ap- 
parently still in his hand, but with a large handkerchief 
in his other hand, everything seemed natural and the 
audience thought nothing of the incident. 


The manager now, after giving the boy the hat and 
handkerchief, invited a committee to come forward and 
blindfold the medium who had been seated at the left 
of the stage. The committee first placed a lady's glove 
on the eyes of the medium as an additional precaution, 
and then placed a handkerchief over this and tied it 
behind his head. This method of blindfolding is the 
one usually employed by most mediums. If the face 
of the medium be properly formed, he can easily shift 
such a bandage with his eyebrows, sufficiently to see 
directly under his eyes, by looking down alongside his 
nose. The committee now retired to the audience, and 
the performer led the medium to a seat behind the 

Now, while the manager delivered the lengthy lec- 
ture, the medium quietly tilted over the hat of enve- 
lopes behind the objects on the table; and then taking 
one at a time, opened the envelopes and removed the 
cards, arranging the cards on top of each other like 
a pack of playing cards. The lecture lasted long 
enough for the medium to complete this task ; and as 
he held the cards in his left hand, he could now move 
slightly to the right so that he was pretty well in view 
of the spectators. However, his left hand did not come 
into view. 

By the time the lecture was completed, the spec- 
tators had entirely forgotten the fact that the manager 
ever received the hat from the boy at all. In fact, next 
day I noticed from the talk of the spectators, that they 
invariably asserted that the hat never left the boy's 
hands or their sight. 

Now, while the manager held each envelope aloft, 
the medium had but to read the top card in his left 
hand and give the tests in a dramatic manner. After 


the tests, when the tables were set to one side and a 
cabinet erected, an assistant out of view received the 
cards from the medium's left hand; and then while 
behind the scenes, replaced them in envelopes, sealed 
them, and then exchanged these for the "dummy" en- 
velopes on the small table. After the entertainment, 
the manager placed the originals (now again sealed), 
near the front of the stage for the writers to take and 
keep as souvenirs if they should so desire. 

It is evident that this method could be varied a little. 
For instance, when the manager holds the envelope 
aloft, the medium could first read it and carefully de- 
scribe the writing. He could then ask for the enve- 
lope, so as to become en rapport with the writer, in 
order that he may give the correct answer. In this 
case he could leave the surplus cards on the back of 
the table behind the music box, and have in his left 
palm, only the single card he is reading. When he 
receives the envelope, he should place it in his left hand 
directly over the card, and tear off the end of the en- 
velope. He should then apparently take out the card 
from the envelope, but in reality take the original card 
from the rear of the envelope with his right hand. 
He should then with his right hand press this card on 
top of his head and give the answer, while his left 
hand lays the opened envelope on the table or music 
box. In this case, as soon as he answers the question, 
he should return the card to the manager with his 
right hand, and ask the manager to have some boy 
run with it to its writer. After it is returned to its 
writer, the manager can hold aloft another envelope 
and the medium continue with the tests. After the 
tests, the manager should remove the torn envelopes, 
as they contain "dummy" cards. 


I will now explain the method pursued on the second 
evening. After the questions were written and sealed, 
the manager went among the spectators collecting the 
envelopes in a cloth bag. He first numbered the en- 
velopes, at the same time instructing each spectator 
to remember his number, after which the envelopes 
were dropped into the bag. When all the envelopes 
were collected, the manager lifted the bag in the tips 
of his fingers and ascended to the stage with it in plain 
view. He quickly attached it to the cord and drew it 
up to the ceiling. So far all was fair; but just at this 
moment a person in the rear of the hall made the 
statement that he desired to place his envelope in the 
bag also. The performer asked a gentleman on the 
floor to take the bag, which he now lowered and de- 
tached, and to kindly go to the gentleman and get his 
envelope. While he was doing this the manager held 
the audience by his discourse. The two gentlemen 
were, of course, paid confederates ; and when they 
met behind the spectators, they merely exchanged the 
first bag for a duplicate under the coat of the rear 
confederate, who then slipped around behind the stage 
with the original. 

When the other confederate returned to the stage 
with the duplicate bag and handed it to the manager 
he ran this one up to the ceiling. This method can 
be varied by the manager making the exchange under 
his own coat in the first place when in the rear of the 
hall after collecting the envelopes. 

Meanwhile an assistant behind the scenes opened 
and copied the questions neatly on a sheet of paper, 
and numbered each one. As he did this he slipped 
each one into a duplicate envelope, which was also 
numbered by the manager with a ring drawn around 


the figure. This he sealed. As soon as all were cop- 
ied this assistant carefully drew the medium's Bible 
just out of sight from the table near the flies where it 
rested, inserted the sheet containing the copied ques- 
tions, and pushed it back into view again. 

During this time the medium was walking slowly 
about at the front of the stage while the manager de- 
livered his lecture. At the close of the lecture the me- 
dium stepped back to the table where he had laid his 
Bible a short time before, picked it up and came for- 
ward taking a seat facing the audience. He next 
opened the Bible and turned the leaves over slowly, 
passing the sheet of paper and reading and memorizing 
the first question quickly. He then turned the leaves 
beyond this sheet of paper and finally selected a verse 
and began reading it impressively. As he read this 
verse he allowed the Bible to tilt forward sufficiently 
for the spectators to see that there was nothing like a 
loose sheet in it, should such an idea occur to any one. 

As he had turned over other pages after secretly 
reading the question, the sheet was hidden from view. 
After reading the verse he allowed the Bible to close, 
and then closing his eyes gave the test for number one. 
After this he again opened the Bible and turned the 
leaves through it slowly, read the second question 
secretly, and finally found a second verse, which he 
proceeded to read in a solemn tone. He then gave 
a second test, and so continued until all the tests were 
given. He then lay down very much exhausted, and 
the manager lowered the cloth bag containing the 
dummy envelopes, and emptied them upon a small 
table near the front of the stage. He then stepped to 
the rear of the stage and picked up a little wicker 
basket, into which he scooped the dummy envelopes 


from the small table where they lay in full view. He 
now descended and rapidly returned the unopened en- 
velopes to their respective writers. 

The basket is what is known as a ''Billet changing 
basket." It is lined with red satin and is a small 
affair with straight sloping sides. It has a handle 
which, when down, locks two flaps up against the 
sides of the basket. This is done by two little pro- 
jections on the base ends of the handle. They are 
of wire and are bent into such shape that they project 
downward when the handle is down, and hold the two 
side flaps up against the sides. These flaps are of 
pasteboard, and are covered with red satin the same 
as the basket lining. There is a spring in each flap 
which closes it upon the bottom of the basket when 
it is released by raising the handle. Envelopes in the 
bottom of the basket are thus hidden and retained, 
when the flaps are released, and the duplicates drop 
into the basket, from the sides where they were con- 
cealed by the flaps. 

This basket can be supplied by the conjuring depots, 
or it can easily be made. The handle can be made of 
wire and wrapped with raffia grass which is on sale 
at the department stores. A pasteboard lining covered 
with red satin must first be sewed into the basket, and 
then two flaps of pasteboard should be hinged to a 
pasteboard bottom by pasting on a hinge of cloth. A 
suitable spring can be made of spring wire and sewed 
into position, after which this is all covered with red 
satin and placed in the basket. The basket should 
have sides about four inches high, and the bottom 
should measure about seven and one-half by ten inches. 
The sides and ends slope outward, and the basket is 
open wicker work. Suitable bows of ribbon on the 


ends of the handle and corners of the basket conceal 
the mechanism. 

In the present instance, the assistant behind the 
scenes, after reading and placing the questions in du- 
plicate envelopes which the manager had previously 
numbered, sealed them and placed them in the sides 
of the basket, bent up the flaps into position, and low- 
ered the handle locking them in place. He now pushed 
this basket into view on a table at the rear of the stage ; 
and when the manager was ready to return the enve- 
lopes, he scooped the dummy envelopes from the table 
(where they lay after the bag was emptied) into this 
basket. He then lifted the handle which released the 
flaps, covered up the dummy envelopes and dropped 
the originals into view. These he took down and 
quickly distributed to the writers. Being numbered, 
this could be quickly done. 

* * * 

T will now describe the method employed on the 
third evening. This time dummy envelopes were placed 
in the sides of the basket, and the handle left in a low- 
ered position while the operator gathered up the en- 
velopes. As the manager returned to the stage he took 
the basket by the handle. This released the dummy 
envelopes, and covered up the originals retaining them. 
He emptied the dummy envelopes upon the small table 
and then laid the basket on a table near the flies in the 
rear, and rather out of view. An assistant behind the 
scenes took out the original envelopes, opened them, 
and as he read the questions repeated them into a small 
telephone. The wires from this telephone ran under 
the stage carpet to a pair of metal plates with a tack 
in the center of each plate which pointed upward. 
These plates were located under certain spots in the 


carpet and directly in front of the medium's chair. 
There were also two other pairs of wires leading to 
two other positions on the stage. The medium was 
dressed as a *'Mahatma" on this evening, wearing a 
large turban. A large tassel dangled by his left ear, 
completely concealing a small ''watch-case receiver" 
which was attached to this ear. Two tiny wires led 
from this receiver, inside his collar, down his person, 
and were connected inside his shoes to other wires 
which penetrated the soles of his shoes. These latter 
wires were soldered to copper plates which were tacked 
into position on his shoe soles. He now took his po- 
sition in the chair and placed his feet over the hidden 
tacks, which now contacted his shoe plates, completing 
the circuit, so that anything whispered into the tele- 
phone on the stage was repeated in his ear. He then 
gave a few tests, tapping his spirit bell, which was a 
signal for more information from the assistant. 

He soon grew nervous and walked away giving a 
test as he walked. He now paused in a certain position 
for a moment, placing his hand to his head as if some- 
what dazed and tapping his bell. In this position his 
feet were again over two concealed tacks, and he again 
secured information for another test, which he gave as 
he walked about. He now paused in a third position 
and gave another test, after which he returned to the 
chair, continuing his work. This maneuvering he kept 
up, until all the tests were given; after which he fell 
upon a couch exhausted, but with his feet from the 

The manager now stepped to the rear of the stage 
and took the basket, which was now in place contain- 
ing the original (?) envelopes behind the flaps; and 
stepping to the small table he scooped in the dummy 


envelopes; then taking the basket by the handles, he 
stepped down the run-way and rapidly returned the 
unopened ( ?) envelopes to their writers. The assistant 
had, of course, sealed the questions in duplicate en- 
velopes previously numbered by the manager. He had 
placed these behind the flaps, and shoved the basket 
into view on a table at the rear of the stage. 


I use a variation of these tricks in my double parlors. 
1 have made a "billet changing basket" as above de- 
scribed, and have also made a similar basket except 
that it contains no mechanism. 

I pass cards and envelopes to the spectators in the 
front parlor. When the questions are written and 
sealed in the envelopes, I gather them up in the mech- 
anical basket; I step to a table in the rear parlor and 
apparently empty them upon it. In reality, I have just 
raised the handle so that the originals are retained, 
and the dummy envelopes are emptied on the table 

I now step to an adjoining room for an instant, to 
get a small decorated screen. I secretly leave the 
basket containing the original envelopes in this room 
and return with the other basket in my hand in its 
place. I place the small ornamental screen on the table 
back of the envelopes, but leave the envelopes in view 
and request the spectators to notice that I do not go 
near them until I get ready to give the tests. I now 
carelessly lay the non-mechanical basket on a table 
in the room where the spectators are and proceed with 
some other tricks. 

Usually I give the series of experiments described 


in the chapter entitled "Mediumlstic Reading of Sealed 
Writings." I state to the spectators that I will not give 
the tests for the sealed envelopes until later In the 

Meanwhile, should any one think of such a thing, 
he can easily examine the little basket, which he thinks 
I have just used ; as It still lies on the table In the front 
parlor with other discarded paraphernalia, including 
slates, etc. I use no assistant; so after a time has 
elapsed, and when by the performance of other sealed 
readings, suspicion has been diverted from the tests 
with the billets, my wife retires on some trifling errand. 
While out, she opens the envelopes In the basket, pre- 
pares the sheet of questions, and places It In the Bible ; 
then she re-seals the questions in envelopes previously 
marked by me, places them in the sides of the basket, 
raises the flaps and lowers the handle. She then 
usually enters with some light refreshments for the 
spectators, which explains her absence with a word. 

I continue with other experiments for ten or fifteen 
minutes after her return ; then I gather up my surplus 
paraphernalia. Including the dummy basket and carry 
all to the room adjoining the back parlor, where I 
leave it. I return instantly with the mechanical basket 
which I place near my own table; and then I give 
another experiment of some kind. 

I now pick up the basket and announce that I have 
decided to return to their writers, the envelopes on the 
table in front of the screen, before attempting to give 
the tests. I do this as if it were a later notion. I now 
scoop in the dummy envelopes, and raise the handle, 
which action covers them up and releases the originals 
(now sealed). I now distribute to the writers their 
envelopes, which I can do, as they are numbered as 


described earlier in this chapter. I request each sitter 
to hold his envelope until I shall give his test. Then 
I usually perform some other little experiment before 
giving the tests. 

I now take up my Bible, which I will state I brought 
into the room, unnoticed, when I returned with the 
last basket. I then seat myself and leisurely turn the 
leaves through the Bible, reading verses, and giving 
the tests as before described. 

I always first read a question secretly, and then turn 
by the sheet of paper and begin reading a verse of 
Scripture. As I do this I permit the front of the Bible 
to lower enough for the spectators to see the printed 
pages. This prevents suspicion. Meanwhile, the spec- 
tators have forgotten that I ever stepped from the 
room at all with the basket, and even that my wife 
retired for some refreshments. Neither did they notice 
the Bible when I brought it in. 

The effect on each person, as I call him by name 
and describe the "influence" of his "dear one," giving 
names and most marvelous information, is far superior 
to what it would be, were I merely to read the ques- 
tions literally, and give the answers. 


There is another method of working this trick, 
which a certain medium whom I know, used an entire 
winter with great success. He gathered up the enve- 
lopes in his hand ; and holding them aloft in view of 
every one, he ran up to the stage and laid the enve- 
lopes in full view on a table. 

Now without any pause, he turned to the audience 
and began giving the tests in a very marvelous fashion. 


He paid no attention to the envelopes behind him on 
the table, but stood on the stage, moving about occa- 
sionally, and gave every test in a very telling manner. 

The secret lay partly in a little move that escaped 
the attention of the spectators. A chair sat upon the 
stage, and it was directly in the path of the medium 
when he returned with the billets. This chair he set 
to one side, just out of view in the flies, and quickly 
thereafter placed the envelopes on the table. The 
move seemed so natural that it attracted no notice, and 
was immediately forgotten. 

Now, on the back of the chair, concealed from the 
view of the spectators, was what magicians call a 
Card servante. This appliance consists of a wire ring 
some five inches in diameter upon which is sewed a 
shallow cloth sack. It is fastened to the back of the 
top cross piece of the chair so as to hold the mouth of 
the sack open in a horizontal position. 

Extending vertically above this ring, and soldered 
to it on the side next to the chair, is a strip of brass 
three inches long and one-half inch wide. This is 
fastened to the chair with a thumb screw. On this 
strip of brass is another strip riveted to it at the bot- 
tom, but separated from the upper portion a half inch 
all the way up, so as to form what is called a "clip." 
Into this clip, prior to the performance, is slipped a 
package of dummy envelopes. 

When the medium returns to the stage, this chair 
appears to be in his way; so he takes it with both 
hands and sets it into the edge of the wings. The hand 
containing the envelopes catches the top cross-piece 
of the chair with the fingers of that hand and the 
envelopes just behind it. At this instant he releases 
the package of original envelopes and they fall into 


the open sack of the servante. At the same time he 
grasps the package of dummy envelopes held in the 
clip, and retains them when he sets the chair down. 
The spectators naturally suppose these dummies to be 
the originals, still in his hand. He lays them on the 
table and turns to the audience and begins the tests. 

While he does this, an assistant in the wings opens 
and reads each question, and writes the same quietly 
on a large blackboard which faces the medium. The 
blackboard and assistant can not be seen by the spec- 
tators, and no thought of them ever occurs to any one. 
The medium has but to glance at the writing, which is 
done in a large hand, read each question, and give the 
tests. The assistant can again seal the questions and 
an exchange of them can easily be effected after the 

There is an improvement to this trick when worked 
in a large hall that I believe will prove thoroughly 
practicable. If so, it will do away entirely with the 
use of a Bible, blackboard, or telephone wires. 

When the manager returns to the stage with the 
sealed envelopes, the medium, who is on the stage in 
full view, immediately begins giving tests while he 
walks about. He can even go down the aisles and 
give the tests from any position he may choose. While 
in the aisle giving the tests amongst the spectators, 
he need not pause any more between the tests than 
was necessary in the previous method on the stage. 
There are no visual signals whatever. 

If this method prove practicable, it will be the most 
marvelous performance of the kind ever given on 
earth. I am indebted for the idea to my brother-in- 


law, IMr. Charles W. Robbins, who is an electrical 
engineer for the Western Electric Co. of Chicago. Mr. 
Robbins is well informed on the subject of trickery, 
and is quite a performer himself. 

He suggested to me the idea of doing away with the 
wires which I was contemplating should lead down 
the aisles to metal plates under the carpet, and to sub- 
stitute wireless telephony in its place. He thinks that 
an apparatus can be concealed on the person of the 
medium, with wires leading to the same "watch-case 
receiver" on his ear. The tassel from the turban can 
conceal it if the medium be a gentleman, while if a 
lady, the hair can be dressed and combed so low as to 
conceal it effectually. 

There will be a telephone on the stage in the rear 
as in the other case, and a small wire will have to be 
laid entirely around the outer edges of the hall. This 
can be next to the floor or ceiling, or it can be buried 

He informs me that words have been sent inside a 
court of a size of 150 by 200 feet, and that he sees no 
difficulty in designing this for an ordinary hall. The 
mechanism which the medium is to wear will doubtless 
require some experimenting. 


IN the book entitled Psychics: Facts and Theories, by 
Rev. Minot J. Savage, at page 15, the following ac- 
count will be found : 

"Soon I began to hear raps, apparently on the 
floor, and then in different parts of the room. On this, 
the lady remarked, simply: 'Evidently there is some 
one here who wishes to communicate with you. Let 
us go into the front parlor, where it will be quieter.' 
This we did, the raps following us, or rather beginning 
again as soon as we were seated. At her suggestion 
I then took pencil and paper (which I happened to 
have in my bag), and sat at one side of a marble-top 
table, while she sat at the other side in a rocker and 
some distance away. Then she said: As one way of 
getting at the matter, suppose you do this : You knovv 
what friends you have in the spirit world. Write now 
a list of names — any names you please, real or ficti- 
tious, only among them somewhere include the names 
of some friends in the spirit world who, you think, 
might like to communicate with you, if such a thing 
were possible.' I then began. I held a paper so that 
she could not possibly have seen what I wrote, even 
though she had not been so far away. I took special 
pains that no movement or facial expression should 


betray me. Meantime she sat quietly rocking and talk- 
ing. As I wrote, perhaps at the eighth or tenth name, 
I began to write the name of a lady friend who had 
not been long dead. I had hardly written the first let- 
ter before there came three loud distinct raps. Then 
my hostess said, This friend of yours, of course, 
knows where she died. Write now a list of places, in- 
cluding in it the place of her death, and see if she will 
recognize it.' This I did, beginning with Vienna, and 
so on with any that occurred to me. Again I had 
hardly begun to write the real name, when once more 
came the three raps. And so on, concerning other mat- 
ters. I speak of these only as specimens. 

"Now, I cannot say that in this particular case the 
raps were not caused by the toe joints of the lady. 
The thing that puzzles me in this theory, is as to how 
the toe joints happened to know the name of my friend, 
w^here she died, etc., which facts the lady herself did 
not know, and never had known.'* 

It has been the writer's good fortune to witness 
practically this same experiment, performed by a very 
expert medium. Dr. Schlessinger, who was traveling 
over the country a few years ago. 

I was residing at that time in Falls City, Neb., a 
place of a few thousand population. For two winters 
I had traveled some as a magician, so when the me- 
dium came to town, and began to perform his miracles, 
certain members of the community suggested having 
me witness one of his seances, thinking I would be 
able to discover whether his tests were genuine, or 
whether they were performed by the aid of trickery. 
Accordingly, one evening, a prominent physician in- 
vited me, with certain relatives and friends, to attend 
a seance given in his parlors. 


When we arrived I was introduced to the medium, 
an elderly gentleman with a long white beard, and 
wearing glasses. He appeared to be slightly deaf, as 
he placed his hand to his ear and had my name re- 
peated. He was introduced to the remainder of the 
tompany en masse, the names of the visitors not being 
given to him. 

The medium soon announced that "his mission on 
this earth was to absolutely prove to humanity the 
immortality of the soul." He now offered to give 
some tests to those desiring it, and asked for a small 
table which was placed in an adjoining room. He in- 
variably held his hand to his ear, to catch what was 
being said, being apparently quite deaf. He also used 
this same expedient when listening to the voices of the 
unseen spirits, and reporting their communications. 

My father and another gentleman were selected for 
the first test, as they were considered very skeptical 
in such matters. As they retired to a closed room I 
did not see the experiment, but will give some parts 
of it as reported to me, further on. In a short time 
they returned to the parlor, engaged in a discussion 
over the matter; and my father remarked, "I do not 
know how you got your information, but I feel certain 
it was not from my brother, or he would have given 
a certain point correctly." The medium then said, 
"If I will tell you where your father died, and the 
disease he died of, will you be convinced ?" My father 
replied, "I suppose I will have to be, if you can do 

They then retired, and the medium succeeded par- 
tially in the experiment; and would have certainly 
succeeded entirely, had my father followed his instruc- 


tions. I will describe what was reported to me of this 
test, further on. 

I now offered myself for a test. I retired to the 
room with the medium, and incidentally offered him 
one dollar and fifty cents, the same my father had 
given him ; but he refused the money, saying : "Your 
father is not convinced, and I will not take any more 

He now took a sheet of paper from a tablet, and 
drew five straight lines across it, spacing the sheet into 
six spaces about equal. Next taking my hand, and 
looking earnestly into my face, he said : "Promise me 
that if I succeed, you will not make light of this. 
Promise me, for this is very sacred to me." I did so. 
He now directed me to write names in the spaces on 
the sheet, any names I pleased, writing but one name 
in each space. All the names were to be of living or 
fictitious persons except one, this one to be the name of 
some one I had known who was then dead. He said, 
"Be fair with me, and I will scratch out the dead per- 
son's name." These were his exact words, therefore 
I in no way tried to hide my writing from him, al- 
though he stood at a distance and did not appear to 
watch me. I took a pencil and began writing the 
names ; being unprepared I had to think of the names 
I wished to write. I desired to select names of persons 
living at a distance, so that he could in no possible 
manner know them. While I was writing he talked 
incessantly, which in spite of myself divided my atten- 
tion. At the same time he kept urging me to write, 
and immediately after urging me, would begin talking 
rapidly on some spiritualistic subject. I remember 
saying, "You must give me time to think." I thought 
I used great care, so as to write each name with the 


same precision, and tried to betray no emotion when 
writing the dead person's name. I selected the name 
"Cora Holt" for the dead person's name. This was the 
name of an aunt who had died in another state. 

As soon as I had written the names he asked me to 
cut them apart into slips, having one name on each 
slip. Now here I do not remember whether he folded 
them himself, or had me help, as I was not expecting 
them to be folded. However, we folded each one into 
a billet with the writing inside. 

He now directed me to place them in a hat, and to 
hold the hat under the table, take out the billets one at 
a time, and throw them on the table top. This I did 
while he stood with his right arm extended toward the 
table and about one foot above it. After I had thrown 
a few billets on the table, as I threw the next one, I 
heard three loud distinct raps. He said, "There, that's 
the one that is dead. Open it and see if I am right, 
but do not let me see it. Fold it up again and place it 
in your pocket." I opened the billet. I did not know 
what the name would be, as I had mixed them under 
the table; yet I had a feeling that it was correct. I 
opened it, and sure enough the name was "Cora Holt." 
I refolded it, placing it in my pocket. I must confess 
that I felt a momentary creepy feeling pass over me, 
as my emotions were wrought up to such a pitch by the 
intense manner in which I had watched all the details 
of the experiment. I informed him that he was right, 
but did not tell him the name. He now took my hand 
in his, and leading me into the parlor, had me state to 
the company what had just occurred. Now placing 
his hand on my head, he said : "I will endeavor to give 
you the name." Closing his eyes, his body trembled 
or shuddered with a kind of paroxysm, and apparently 


with a great effort he pronounced the name *'Cora 
Holt." This effort seemed to greatly exhaust him, 
and coming out of his temporary trance he begged us 
to excuse him, saying that there were opposing spirits 
present and he could do no more that night ; that he 
had done all for us that lay within his power. He now 
took his leave. 

This was all very impressive to me at the time, ex- 
cept the raps. It was only afterwards that I thought 
out the explanation, which I will give further on. As 
to the raps, they had the sound as of a pencil tapping 
loudly on a thin strip of wood, or a ruler, and not the 
sound of tapping on a table. I had previously known 
of the mechanical and electrical rappers, supplied by 
certain conjuring depots, and worn on the person of 
the medium, or attached to a table. My impression 
was at the time that possibly he had a rapper in the 
sleeve of the arm extended over the table, and by di- 
recting the attention to the table the sound would ap- 
pear to come from there. As I was sitting right 
against the table, I will say that the sound did not 
appear to me to come from the table, but more nearly 
from his person. 

Referring again to the test given my father, the 
medium first announced his prices, which he would 
accept if satisfactory. This was agreed to and paid. 
He then had my father write names on paper in a 
manner similar to the way I have described, except he 
did not request my father to write a dead person's 
name ; instead, he requested him to write, among other 
names, his mother's maiden name, his wife's maiden 
name, his father's name, also the names of certain 
members of his family and of some of his friends, 
some of whom should be dead. This my father did. 


Among the names written by my father was his 
mother's maiden name, viz., ''Celestina Redexilana 
Phelps," a name certainly out of the ordinary. He 
also wrote his wife's maiden name, his father's name, 
his brother's name and several other names — six or 
eight altogether. 

When the medium had the billets taken out of the 
hat he said, "You have there the name of your mother ; 
the name is something like 'Celestia (not Celestina) 
Roxalena (not Redexilana) Phelps,' " thus giving 
wrong pronunciations to the first two names. However, 
when my father opened it, sure enough it was his moth- 
er's maiden name. My father now took another billet 
which had written thereon his father's name. This 
the medium gave correctly, stating that this was his 
father's name. The next billet had written thereon 
the name of my father's brother ; the name was '7^"^^^ 
Asahel Abbott." The medium then said : "Your brother 
James is here, and he says to tell you that he is happy 
and that you are making a great mistake not to be- 

Now this brother had always been called by his 
second name and not by the name of James. My 
father said, "If you are my brother, give me your full 
name." The medium replied, "James Ash-a-bell Ab- 
bott," giving an entirely wrong pronunciation of the 
second name. This it was, with some other error, that 
led to the discussion they had on returning to the par- 
lor, and in which my father remarked, "If you get your 
information from the dead, they should be able to 
pronounce their own names correctly." 

My father, not being familiar with the methods of 
trickery, could not with exactness give all the minute 
details of the test as I would have wished : and as I 


never had an opportunity to see this experiment my- 
self, I can only surmise the means employed in its 

The second experiment with my father had been an 
effort to tell the disease of which my grandfather died, 
also the place where he died. The medium required 
my father to write on the usual ruled paper, a name 
of a disease and also a name of a place, in each space, 
that is, one disease and one place in each space. He 
remarked in giving directions, '*Like New York mea- 
sles, Philadelphia smallpox, etc." He required, how- 
ever, that my father write in the same space the correct 
disease, and also the correct place of his father's death. 
The remainder of the spaces w^ere to contain the names 
of any disease or any place he might choose. 

This my father did, writing in one space ''Sacra- 
mento dysentery." This was the correct disease, but 
the city was the place of my grandfather's burial, and 
not the place of his death, the latter being a village 
called "Hangtown." The medium quickly gave dys- 
entery as the disease, and Sacramento as the place of 
my grandfather's death. It was plain that had my 
father written the village where his father died, in- 
stead of his burial place, the medium would have suc- 

This, however, proved beyond a doubt that the me- 
dium obtained his information from the writing, and 
not from the spirits of the dead. 
•H * * 

After thinking the matter over, I decided that, while 
I was uncertain as to the manner in which Dr. Schles- 
singer had performed all of these experiments, I could 
reproduce two of them with certainty as often as he 
did. I immediately made the trial and found I could 


succeed fully nine times out of ten on an average. I 
might state that the doctor also failed about one time 
in ten on an average; nevertheless, the people of the 
community were greatly excited, talking of his mir- 
acles, in groups on the streets, for some days. The 
medium was coining money, yet I found a few cases 
where he failed totally. The failures were seldom 
mentioned ; it was the successes that excited the people. 
The method I use in reproducing the first test given 
me, is to so direct the attention of the subjects before 
the writing, by my discourse, as to cause them to se- 
lect unconsciously the name of the dead person in ad- 
vance. This is easily managed with a little practice 
in talking, and still they will never guess that it is 
done on purpose. 

Now, as they begin to write, they will naturally 
pause before writing each name, to think of a name 
to write. The pause may be but slight, yet there is 
some pause. Of course, when they write the selected 
name, no pause will be necessary; and if hurried 
properly at that time they will make none. This is 
the object of the incessant talking during the experi- 
ment. If left to themselves, the subjects will, in about 
one-half of the cases, write the selected name in the 
third space from the top. In about half of the re- 
maining cases the selected name will be written in 
the fourth space from the top. This is especially true 
if in your instructions you direct the subject to "mix 
the dead person's name somewhere in among the 
others where you cannot know where it is." In the 
remaining cases the subjects are liable to write the 
selected name anywhere, generally first or last. Now 
my object is to so manipulate my subjects as to cause 
them to write the selected name when I want them to 


do SO. This is done by continuous talking, and dis- 
tracting their attention until the proper moment. I 
choose the third space, since this, being the one they 
are most Hable to choose of their own accord, is easiest 
to force. Just as they begin to write the first name, 
before they make a mark, I say suddenly, ''Now be 
sure and select names of living persons that I could 
not possibly know." This is almost certain to insure 
a pause, and the name of a living person to be written 
first. I continue my talking in a natural manner, 
taking the attention to a great extent from the writing, 
and nearly always observing another pause just before 
writing the second name. When the "second name is 
almost finished I exclaim suddenly, "Now write as 
rapidly as possible!" If the subjects have been prop- 
erly impressed with the seriousness of the experiment, 
they will almost invariably, on finishing the second 
name (in obedience to my command "to be as rapid 
as possible," and in their desire to please me), hurry 
into the name already in their minds, thus writing the 
selected name in the third place. If such is the case 
they will now most surely pause to think of a fourth 
name. If so, I am certain that I now know the se- 
lected name. However, if they should rapidly pass 
into the fourth name, it is then uncertain whether the 
selected name is in the third or fourth space. This, 
however, seldom happens if worked in an expert 

In rare cases the subject cannot be manipulated by 
the performer, in which case it is purely guesswork ; 
even in such cases, however, I stand one chance in 
six of succeeding; and if I make a second trial on 
failing (not uncommon with mediums), I stand one 
chance in three of succeeding. 


It is hardly worth while to say that as I fold the 
billets, I fold the third one slightly different from the 
rest, so that while it will not attract attention, I can 
see at a glance what it is when thrown on the table. 
I memorize the name ; also, if in doubt, I fold a second 
choice in a still different manner for a second trial. 
Frequently I memorize more of the names, folding 
so I can pick them out. Then, after giving the dead 
person's name with proper effect, I pick up the others, 
hold them to my head and call out the names. The 
effect of this on a subject is very impressive. 

With a little practice the above test can be given 
with very small chance of failure ; and in the event of 
making a failure it can be explained by the statement 
that "there are opposing spirits present," or some simi- 
lar excuse. If one has other tests at his command, it 
is well in the event of failure, to announce that he will 
try something else, and then give another test. As 
these experiments are always tried alone with one or, 
at most, two subjects, a failure attracts little notice. 

Now I can not say positively that Dr. Schlessinger 
performed this experiment in exactly this same man- 
ner; but I do have a recollection of his hurrying me 
along in my writing at some stage of its progress. I 
also know that I can succeed as often as he did. I will 
add further that a few days later I prepared six names 
in advance, and, with my wife, had a sitting with the 
medium; this time, although I paid him, he failed 
utterly. He tried in every way and had me write ad- 
ditional names. This time I guarded the points in the 
above explanation, yet no matter how he tried, he made 
an utter failure. All tricks require certain conditions, 
and this is why it is not safe to repeat the same trick 
for the same person. There is too much danger that 


the snbjest may notice the sameness of the modus ope- 

Referring to the second test which was given by the 
medium to my father, I will state that when the sub- 
jects are writing the cities and diseases, they w^ll 
naturally pause after writing the city, to think of a dis- 
ease to go with it. Of course, when writing the correct 
ones, which are already in mind, no pause will be ne- 
cessary. Also advantage may be taken of the fact that 
a small per cent, of persons die of smallpox or measles. 
If in giving the directions one says, "Write like this: 
'Philadelphia smallpox. New York measles,' " and the 
subject writes smallpox or measles in the list, it is safe 
to eliminate that from the case. This is especially true 
if written in connection with some large city, the name 
of which occurs readily to the mind. It is safe also 
to eliminate Philadelphia or New York if these should 
be written, providing you mentioned these names in 
the directions, and that the test is not being given in 
their section of the country. A small per cent, of the 
people of a country die in any two places of prom- 
inence. Yet these places will be written readily by 
most subjects, if they are suggested, or at least other 
places of equal prominence will be written. If an 
unusual place or disease should be written, it is almost 
certain these are the ones. 

It can readily be seen how expert one can become 
at this by continuous practice, such as a medium has 
many times a day ; how one can learn to take advantage 
of every little point, and use it with telling effect on 
unsuspecting strangers, who do not know what is go- 
ing to happen, or what to look for. 

I have been told that Dr. Schlessinger had a very 
sharp eye, although wearing glasses; and that the 


glasses were probably to make the subject think it im- 
possible for him to read writing when they were moved 
out of position and placed on the forehead, as they 
were during the tests. It has also been suggested that 
his poor hearing was feigned, to enable him to hear 
remarks made about himself in his presence. I have 
suspected that his memory had become trained to a 
high degree of accuracy, enabling him to give his tests 
with such marvelous success, as he did with nearly all 
wherever he went. That he does not use one set of 
principles only in his tricks, I am certain, but has many 
more at his command which he uses continually. How- 
ever, I can only vaguely guess at them from having 
seen his tests but once. 

Now, I do not say that this was the method em- 
ployed by the lady with Rev. Savage, given in the 
account at the beginning of this chapter. But as the 
experiments are practically the same, it is safe to con- 
clude that the methods used are the same, or nearly 
so. If the test were genuine in the case of the lady 
mentioned, it was probably genuine in the case of Dr. 
Schlessinger. On the other hand, if it were trickery 
in one case, it probably was in both. 

Dr. Schlessinger gave other tests than the one he 
gave me. I heard of them from various sources, and 
they seemed to be similar to one of the tests given to 
my father. I could only guess at the method he em- 
ployed from the descriptions I heard. It was quite 
evident that he could have a stranger write a number 
of names of persons living or dead, relatives, friends, 
etc., in an apparently haphazard way; and that he 
could successfully point out or have the "spirits" point 
out the living from the dead, give the correct relation- 
ship of each, etc. While doing this he talked continu- 


ally in a very rapid and eccentric manner, and seemed 
a very strange person. 

It was hard to tell v.hat his principles were, from 
seeing a single experiment only once ; but I noticed one 
fact, and that was that he, in his incessant talking, 
w^ould direct the sitter to wTite a name, contradict him- 
self in a very eccentric manner, order the subject to 
ask him a question, then answer with a rising inflec- 
tion before the subject could ask it, and then again 
contradict himself in a very peculiar manner. All of 
this seemed so strange and unusual that one could 
hardly tell by what subtle art he gained his informa- 

Fortunately, a magician, Mr. C. S. Weller, had an 
opportunity to see this performance ; and I am in- 
debted to him for a description of it. I will say, how- 
ever, in Mr. Weller's own w^ords, 'This talk stuff is 
very difficult to describe intelligibly on paper." If 
one could only have an expert stenographer to take 
down the discourse of the doctor, with all the excla- 
mations and unusual inflections, it would be a subject 
well worthy of study afterwards ; and the method 
would then appear very plainly. The difficulty lies in 
the impossibility of quoting from memory the exact 
words and modes of expression used by him, in his 
expert conversational tricks. 

The substance of the account which follows I quote 
from Mr. Weller: 

^: Hi * 

"To exactly describe my experience, I was requested 
to WTite the names of relatives, friends, or any names 
of living or^dead persons. He divided the paper into 
not more than seven sections. In each section I wrote 
a name, and in one section I wrote mv own. The 


paper was then divided, by placing the same, face 
down on the edge of the table ; and each section was 
cut off with a knife and rolled into a billet. I did all, 
or nearly all of the preparing. 

"During the time, and while names were being writ- 
ten, the medium retired to the farther part of the 
room, remarking, 'I beg you not to let me see what you 
write — Promise me you will not tell me — Oh! I am 
so nei*vous — This work is so very trying on me, etc' 

"After the billets were prepared he successfully 
selected, (by the aid of his spirit guide, Levi), first, 
the living from the dead. Then he selected the name 
of a friend, 'who was nothing more than a friend' ; 
a sweetheart *who was no longer a sweetheart,' etc. 
Levi at first failed to make the table rap, and con- 
veyed the information by whispering; at least so it 
appeared, for the medium held his hand to his ear, 
listening intently, to sounds ( ?) which I could not 

"He also selected the name of an uncle and the name 
of an aunt 'who had just gone over.' This aunt sent 
a message ending with these words: 'Charlie, I am 
watching over you ; be good, be true ; investigate and 
know the truth.' The medium then continued, 'Char- 
lie — Charlie Weller — that is your name — Please heed 
this message from your aunt, etc' This last came 
from the medium direct, and furnished in an effective 
way a dramatic manner for introducing my name. He 
properly described five out of six or seven names, as 
will be seen. There was no sleight-of-hand, no im- 
pression or anything of the kind ; merely a mental 
trick, and one that has deceived many and has pro- 
duced a very great effect on the most intelligent per- 


**i will now describe the performance a little more 
fully, giving such explanations as have occurred to 
me. The tests were given in Sioux City, Iowa, in 

"There was a company of some twenty persons 
gathered to witness the tests, each person paying 
fifty cents. The medium explained that he would not 
have time to give each person a test; and asked that 
two be chosen, a lady and a gentleman, to 'form a 
battery.' A lady was duly chosen; and I (thanks to 
a friend), was chosen on the other end of the 'battery.' 
We were accompanied by the host, who was self- 
appointed, and retired to another room. 

'The medium took two sheets of paper, and divided 
them with lines drawn across as previously described. 
As nearly as I can recall, the lady was handled in 
about the same manner that you were. There was one 
difference, however. In a spell of apparent nervous- 
ness, the medium retired for a drink of water, secretly 
taking one of the lady's billets with him. The self- 
appointed witness followed him. The medium dis- 
missed this witness, asking him to inform the com- 
pany that he would give them a test soon. He then 
gave the lady some little information, making a mis- 
take as to relationship, and dismissed her. 

"Then he asked me to write some names on my 
paper. After I had written two or three, he said: 
'Do not neglect to include the name of a departed 
person.' At the time, I had a distinct feeling that my 
action showed by the manner in which I began writ- 
ing again, that I had not previously written the name 
of a departed person. 

"I did not know whether I was to write one, two, 
or a hundred names. Each time I wrote a name 


(thinking I was through) / had a feeling of a com- 
pleted task. He would then urge me to write an- 
other name, and say, 'Can't you think of another 
name — an uncle — aunt — father — sister — or friend?' By 
watching my eyes, he could tell as soon as I had fixed 
my mind on a name, and would know with consider- 
able certainty whether it was an aunt, or uncle, etc. 
This is based on the same principle as a certain card 
trick, and one can be certain that it can be worked. 

"After I had written four or five names, which ow- 
ing to his constantly talking and directing me, I had 
a hard time to select, he suddenly said, 'You have in- 
cluded your own name? Don't tell me. At least write 
some more names. I will not look. Promise me you 
will not let me see what you have written. Oh ! I am 
so nervous ; this work is so trying on me, etc' All 
of this spoken in a very eccentric and excitable manner. 
I wrote the other name, which of course he knew was 
my own, for the reason that if I had already written 
my own name, I would not have written another. Also 
because I started to answer his question when he 
stopped me, 

"So far, he knew the location on the paper of the 
name of one departed person, who, by his suggestion, 
he was reasonably certain was an aunt. He knew my 
own name was the last written, or next to the last. He 
could tell which was which, by the way I dashed off 
my own name, and by the slight hesitation I made 
when writing the other. 

"Further, by watching me write, he knew nearly all 
of the names. The few he had not learned, he famil- 
iarized himself with when he showed me how to pre- 
pare the billets. By the shape of each billet, or the 
principal ones, he knew the names on them. He next 


asked me to select a billet and directed me to look at 
it. Then, following the direction of the raps, or the 
inaudible whispers of his guide, he would either direct 
me to lay it down, or would say for instance, 'It is an 
aunt/ This in tone and inflection a partial statement, 
likewise a question. 

*Tf he was right, my eyes would light up, and I 
would start to nod my head. If he was wrong, I 
would try to keep my face a blank. By watching my 
expression, he knew whether he was right or wrong. 
He could then either say, 'Yes, it is an aunt' ; or placing 
his hand to his ear, 'Levi! Tell me! — No, it is not an 

"Here is another example: When I opened another 
billet he would speak like this: 'This is an uncle — 
grandfather? Levi! Tell me!' Or he would ask the 
raps. If this did not show him, he would say, 'Don't 
tell me — I mean for you to ask me, is it the name of 
an uncle and so on, but include in your question the 
right relationship.' Then I would repeat a list, as 
'uncle ? aunt ? mother ? friend ?' etc., but naturally would 
not mention the right relationship until I had run out 
of questions. 

"By this system of watching me, of 'forcing' and 
suggesting names, of mentally retreating and advan- 
cing, of asking questions which were asked in such 
manner that at the time I did not fully realize he was 
questioning me, but felt that I was doing the asking, 
he gained the principal amount of his information, and 
soon knew the different names and in what relationship 
they stood to me. 

"During all of the time I felt I was unintentionally 
aiding him ; but I could not prevent myself from a nod 
of the head, a brightening of the eyes, or an involun- 


tary start, etc. Not until later could I determine what 
he had really done. 

"As yet he had told me very little. Now he asked 
me to pick up the billets, count them, and lead him into 
the other room. 

"There he" put the billets into a hat and had some one 
else take them out, while he closed (?) his eyes. Then 
it was that he picked out the names of uncles, aunts, 
friends, sweethearts, etc. He stated which were the 
departed ones, and got the message mentioning my 
name. He also told the lady several impressive things. 
One thing I should, however, mention. After he had 
told the lady some few things in the first instance and 
while he was absent getting the drink of water, she 
discussed with me whether he was right or wrong. 
She also told me some facts regarding names, part of 
which he repeated when he gave the tests before the 

"Every one was impressed that he was quite deaf, 
and also that he could not see well without his glasses. 
I am sure his hearing and vision were both excellent ; 
and that he could read writing upside down, or read 
it by merely watching the writer covertly while he was 

"When he divided the paper on the edge of the table, 
he first laid it face downwards ; but in folding over 
each name to cut it off with his knife, this brought 
such name into view, although the paper was face 

"Let me repeat that the questioning was all done in 
such a manner that the subject was not aware that he 
was questioned. The medium was very expert, clever, 
and subtle in his work. He also gave us a 'Vision of 


Jesus Christ,' which was supposed to be a sermon in- 
spired by the great Jewish Reformer. 

"All of this possibly sounds like child's play ; but I 
want to say that it was very effective and most start- 
ling, both to myself and the company. I experienced 
the 'cold shivers.' This gentleman, by his clever pres- 
entation of the work which I have here very poorly 
described, greatly mystified the most intelligent persons 
all over this Western country, and made a greater im- 
pression on them with it than did anything of the kind 
that had ever occurred in their history. At the best 
I can only faintly convey the idea of the effects he 
could produce, and of the almost impossible things he 
could accomplish with this conversational art. The 
reader must remember that he had grown so expert 
that he was very rapid in the work, although it takes 
so long to describe it. This rapidity added an effect 
of its own." 


I HAVE referred elsewhere in this work to the above 
subject. I will here give a little additional informa- 
tion in regard to it. 

Where the medium works alone he generally uses 
the luminous costumes previously described ; but when 
he has confederates who impersonate the spirits, this 
is unnecessary, as is also such complete darkness. Let 
us suppose that the medium works from a cabinet. He 
first allows strangers to erect and at the same time to 
thoroughly examine it. Next he is taken into the cab- 
inet and thoroughly disrobed by a committee, and his 
clothing is examined. Then the committee retires. 

The medium has a gentleman assistant who stays 
with the spectators during the seance. This gentle- 
man now steps in front of the cabinet and makes a 
short talk to the spectators in regard to the conditions 
to be maintained during the seance. While he is talk- 
ing, he is standing directly in front of the closed cab- 
inet curtains, and close to them. Under the tail of his 
coat, behind, is a small load of luminous silk forms, 
faces, hands, costumes, and two pencil reaching-rods. 
The medium slips his hands secretly through the cur- 
tains and removes this load, taking it into the cabinet. 

The assistant now has the lights put out, and seats 
himself in the front row with the ardent believers who 
help to see that conditions are not disturbed. 


The lights being out, the medium can emerge with 
a luminous costume on his person, and with two other 
forms supported by the extended reaching-rods ; so 
that in the darkness there appear to be three persons 
who come out of the cabinet. These the medium can 
move about at his pleasure and two of them float up 
into the air on the ends of the invisible rods. 

The medium can then retire into the cabinet, and 
push out a number of hands and faces on the ends of 
the rods. After the manifestations, there is always 
considerable time taken up in waiting for more mani- 
festations, before the believers conclude that all is over 
for the night. This gives the medium time to conceal 
the costumes, which go into a very small space, and he 
can also telescope the rods and conceal them. As he 
has been previously disrobed, he would not think of 
submitting to the humiliation of a second examination 
after the seance. 

In case the medium be a lady, she has these costumes 
and rods in a hollow belt which is worn around the 
waist next to the skin. The ladies are invited into the 
cabinet to disrobe her and dress her in their own cloth- 
ing. Now for "modesty's sake" the medium retains 
a black underskirt on her person until she is dressed 
in the committee's clothes. Then she reaches under 
her skirts andHoosens the black under-skirt and re- 
moves it. She then lifts the other skirts as high as 
possible, showing the committee the bare skin and 
that she wxars no other clothing. In this manner the 
hollow belt escapes detection. The usual method, 
where this means is not resorted to, is for a secret 
confedereate to slip the load to the medium after the 
lights are lowered and before the medium enters the 


In some cases the medium submits to being tied in 
a chair in the cabinet after the disrobing process, and 
the ends of the rope are passed out to a committee 
that hold them. The feet are roped and tacked to the 
floor. I will not describe the means by which the 
medium escapes from these ties as there are so many 
books published explaining the various rope ties. How- 
ever, it is very easy for an artist in this line to escape 
and perform the usual manifestations. 

In some instances the medium is placed in a large 
wire cage and the same is screwed to the floor. No cab- 
inet is used in such cases. After the lights are put out 
the medium pushes the hands, faces, and forms on a 
reaching-tube through the cage. Some of them are 
made of fine rubber and are blown up through this 

Where a hall is used, sometimes the instant the lights 
are put out a spirit appears on the stage and then 
vanishes. In this case there is a tube under the floor ; 
and the rubber form is blown up out of this tube, with 
a bellows, and then sucked back. The lights are turned 
on instantly and the hall stage is seen to be vacant. 

Many mediums prefer to use the various traps and 
sliding panels for admitting confederates, who im- 
personate the spirits. The best trap is the one in the 
ceiling described elsewhere in this work. I know of 
a medium who took rooms, and materialized simply 
by having the spirits enter through a door. The 
cabinet was erected in front of this door, and his var- 
ious "spooks" came in through the door into the 
cabinet, and then out of the cabinet into the room 
where were the believers. This was in Omaha and it 
did very well for a few nights; but many grew sus- 


The landlady now went away for a short visit, leav- 
ing the medium in charge of her home. The medium 
then decided that as she was gone, he would take ad- 
vantage of her absence and cut a trap in the baseboard 
of the room. He hired a cabinet maker and did the 
work in the daytime. Now, during the materializing, 
the believers all usually sang loudly, such old hymns 
as "Shall We Gather at the River." This was sup- 
posed to aid the ''dear departed" in materializing. One 
quite prominent young man of this city had been play- 
ing "spook" for the medium, and he happened along 
as the trap was being cut. He was quite portly built, 
so the medium had him creep through the opening to 
see if it were large enough. It was almost too small, 
and he got fastened in rather tightly, and could not of 
himself get out. Just at this moment another comical 
young man appeared, who had also been impersona- 
ting for the medium. He looked down and saw his 
portly friend half-materialized through the trap and 
"stuck" there. He did not say a word but simply be- 
gan singing, "Shall We Gather at the River." Me- 
diums and their confederates have many a joke at the 
expense of the believers whose money they are en- 

Detective Clifton R. Wooldridge of the Chicago 
Police Department, in a published report, speaking of 
a materializing seance which he attended, says: 

"I attended a seance and seized a 'spirit.' When 
I grasped the ghost I felt the rotund form of a woman 
who squirmed like an eel. When the lights were put 
up I found that my prisoner was dressed like a man. 
Her face was smeared with white paint. 

"Attached to a pole in front of her was a paper head 
around which was a white shroud four feet in length. 


Those in attendance believed this image to be the spirit 
of a behever's dead relative. The 'mediums' had spook 
images of men, women and children and could produce 
them as circumstances demanded. The light was 
turned up and the contemptible imposition on credul- 
ity was exposed to twenty-six dupes, who had been 
paying one dollar apiece for the privilege of attending 
meetings of the spook grafters for years. It was the 
greatest expose of 'spooks' that has been made in many 
years. A wagon-load of masks, wigs, false whiskers, 
tin horns, gowns with safety pins in them, skulls and 
skeletons with cross bones to match were seized." 
* * * 

There was a medium who gave some very success- 
ful seances in Omaha a few years ago, as a ''Material- 
izing Medium." 

The audience could examine his cabinet and himself 
thoroughly, then lock the only door to the room and 
keep the key themselves, besides bolting the door on 
the inside. The sitters would now form a circle about 
the room, holding hands and guarding the door. 
Nevertheless, as soon as the lights were lowered, the 
medium came from his cabinet, leading numerous 
spirits. Parents recognized their children ; and one 
fond parent still has a withered flower which money 
cannot buy, given by the spirit of a dead child. The 
medium took the town by storm, carrying three thou- 
sand dollars away with him in a short time ; yet his 
spirits were produced in the simplest manner. 

He had trained children in costumes in an adjoining 
room. There was a trap in the base board running 
along the wall of the room. This trap was behind the 
curtains of his cabinet. Through this the children 
entered and retired at the proper time. As they hooked 


the movable part of the base board with strong hooks 
to the studding from the room where they were con- 
cealed, and as there were dummy nails in this board 
apparently holding it in place, the audience could not 
discover but that it was perfectly solid. In the room 
where the children were concealed, the base board was 
held in place by door knockers which were screwed 
through it into the studding. When time came to per- 
form, the children unscrewed the base board on their 
side, letting it down ; now unhooking the other board, 
they entered through the opening into the medium's 
cabinet. After the experiment the children hooked 
the base board in place and screwed the second board 
in place on their side of the wall; then with their 
make-up material they made their escape to other ap- 
partments, leaving the door open in a natural manner. 
During this time the spectators were examining the 
medium, his cabinet and the room again, and telling 
each other of the "dear one" they had recognized, 
while the medium sat, exhausted, recovering from the 
weakening effects of his recent ''trance." 

Probably the greatest swindle ever perpetrated in 
the name of spiritualism, was recently brought to light 
In Stockton, California. The medium and his con- 
federates materialized everything from frogs and small 
fish to a huge boulder of gold quartz weighing sev- 
eral hundred pounds. This latter had to be brought 
from the mountains with a mule team. 

The materializing was done through sliding panels 
in the walls, while the believers sat holding hands 
about the opposite side of a table, and loudly singing 
sacred hymns. They had the only door to the room 


locked and sealed, and never dreamt that the spirits 
who brought the quartz from the mine were mules. 

Thousands of dollars were invested in this "spirit 
mine," the believers stacking their money on the quartz 
as it lay on the table at a dark seance, and receiving 
deeds in return for their money, which the spirits de- 

The medium established, or had his spirits establish, 
a "Treasury of Heaven" for the faithful to deposit 
their money in, and on which they were to receive fifty 
per cent, interest. This interest the believers contin- 
ued to receive at dark seances from the spirits for a 
time. Each sitter's interest was found on the table 
stacked in front of him when the lights were lighted. 
When the spirit bank became insolvent and the chief 
medium disappeared, the believers were out about 
thirty-five thousand dollars. 

No less a personage than a millionaire of Tacoma, 
Washington, is said to have contributed largely to 
this spirit fund. I had known of this case for some 
time before the exposure (conducted by a performer 
engaged for the purpose), and knew that certain inter- 
ested persons were contemplating bringing it about, 
in order to rescue certain estimable persons from the 
clutches of these mediums. This was successful ; and 
the confederates of the medium signed written con- 
fessions in the presence of one of the most devout 
of the believers, and a gentleman who is otherwise 
very intelligent. Upon this the gentleman was greatly 
crestfallen, but he still insists that there are certain 
mediums who are not impostors ; and that certain me- 
diums in Chicago who produce , spirit portraits are 

A full and very interesting account of this exposure 


is given in the San Francisco Examiner of March 3 
and 4, 1907. 

I could report enough cases of materialization to 
fill a volume. These I know of, from various sources, 
and in every case they were invariably fraudulent. I 
will give a short account of a materialization which 
a very expert medium, who is on friendly terms with 
me, witnessed. The gentleman was originally a min- 
ister, and afterwards began investigating spiritualism, 
as he was a believer in it. He hoped to become a me- 
dium ; and at one time paid two lady mediums of some 
renown, who reside in Chicago, three dollars a sitting 
for three sittings a week. These sittings were con- 
ducted for the purpose of developing this gentleman 
in mediumship. He continued this for a long time, 
but was no nearer to being a medium than he was in 
the beginning. 

At one time he detected one of the sisters passing 
a slate to the other, and substituting another in its 
place. He saw the edge of one of the slates pro- 
truding from behind the dress of one of the sisters. 
They never knew they were discovered as he said 
nothing, but this "opened his eyes." After this he 
investigated everywhere, and at every opportunity, and 
grew to be a very expert medium himself. 

Recently, when in Los Angeles, he visited a seance 
conducted by a medium who claimed to be a Buddhist 
priest. This medium was known under the name of 
"The Reverend Swami Mazzininanda." He had an 
altar in his home, constructed something like those 
in Roman Catholic churches. He had various candles 
and images on this altar, including an image of Bud- 
dha, and also a number of mystical figures. It was a 


great mixture of "fake" Buddhism, Roman Catholi- 
cism, and modern spirituaHsm. The medium also 
wore the costume of a Buddhist priest at his seances. 

This "priest" held services here for the faithful. He 
conducted all in Hindoostani( ?), his native tongue. 
He chanted, prayed to Buddha, etc., all in a queer- 
sounding "gibberish." Certain evenings of the week 
were devoted to "soul-travel," and certain evenings 
after the religious services a "Black Chapter" was held. 

The gentleman whom I have mentioned attended 
one of these dark seances. He sat with other spec- 
tators around the room in perfect darkness. The spec- 
tators were not required to hold hands, so great was 
their faith. Finally, in the darkness, a queer-looking, 
vapory, luminous form floated around in the air and 
paused in front of the spectators. My friend slipped 
down quietly on his knees, and gradually worked closer 
and closer to the luminous form, until he could detect 
that the vapor was a kind of luminous "cheese cloth." 
He did not desire to expose this "priest," but he de- 
sired to have the "priest" know that some one had dis- 
covered him. My friend accordingly took hold of the 
gauze and gave it a very slight downward jerk. He 
then immediately returned quietly to his seat. 

There was an immediate pause in the discourse of 
the "priest," who had really been floating this form on 
the end of a stick. ■ Every one knew that something 
had happened, but no one but my friend knew what it 
was. The "priest" then said in his slow, peculiar, ec- 
centric and measured tones, "I have received a very 
great shock ; and I will be unable to continue further 
this evening." The next day, when in conversation 
with some of the "faithful," this "priest" stated in his 
peculiar maimer of speaking, and with intense earnest- 


ness, that which follows : "Last night I received a very 
great shock. I was just in the middle of the 'Dark 
Chapter' and the spirit of the Master, Krishna, was 
out. Having spent the greater portion of my life on 
the Himalayas, my right eye has become injured by the 
snows." Then pointing to his right eye, he added, 
"My right eye has a defect in it which you can not see ; 
but on account of that, I can only see in the dark with 
it. I immediately turned my right eye downward and 
I looked! I distinctly saw a lady's hand reached out 
towards my robe in the darkness, and this hand took 
hold of it and jerked it lightly just like this." The 
"Reverend Swami" here illustrated, by slightly jerk- 
ing his coat downward. It was very amusing to hear 
him, in great seriousness, relate this in his low and 
measured accents to his faithful followers. 

Shortly after this, when the Los Angeles Herald 
was conducting a crusade against the numerous me- 
diums of that city, and when it had an exhibit in its 
windows of the confiscated material of some of them, 
this "Buddhist priest" was arrested and imprisoned for 
some of his practices. 




THERE is one feature of mediiimistic work which 
can not be taught to any one, but depends entirely 
on the natural tact and the personality of the medium. 
This is what is known to professionals as the ability 
of a medium to give a reading. This consists in 
adroitly revealing to the subject many things that ap- 
pear to fit into his life. It is the capacity for shrewd 
guessing, and of adapting one's revelations to the re- 
plies and conversation of the sitter, so as to impress 
him with the idea that the medium possesses a mys- 
terious and occult power of seeing remote and hidden 
events in the former's life and of reading the future. ^ 
If a medium be very expert at this, as sometimes is 
the case where he has had long and continued prac- 
tice, it is unnecessary to resort to any trickery other 
than this. In such cases the medium's patrons tell such 
marvelous tales of what has been foretold to them, 
that such medium will do a thriving business in one 
place for years and will never be caught in any trick. 
Mediums, when speaking of each other, frequently 
make such remarks as "She could give an excellent 
reading," or, "She never could give a very good read- 
ing," etc. They rate the standing of each other by the 


ability of each to give a reading. This is the very 
foundation of all mcdiumistic work, and tricks are but 
an accessory to the art. 

This same power or ability, is the underlying feature 
of palmistry, of modern astrology, and of fortune- 
telling. The underlying, and in fact the principal, 
feature of all of these, and of mediumship as generally 
practiced, is absolutely this same iinteachable thing. 
This forms the ground work, as it were, of the whole 
business, and can be acquired only by continued prac- 
tice. In the practice of the business, necessity develops 
this faculty. 

There is a demand among a certain class of persons 
for fortune-telling under a modern name, and they 
will pay for it at any time they can get it. There will 
always be those who will avail themselves of this de- 
mand, for the purpose of making a living out of it. 
The reader will doubtless have little idea of the number 
of persons following this profession. Detective Clif- 
ton R. Wooldridge of the Chicago Police Department 
in a published report says, "War against the swind- 
lers, impostors, and blackmailers who operate in Chi- 
cago under the guise of clairvoyants, trance mediums, 
astro-psychics, palmists, magicians, and fortune-tellers, 
of whom there are about 1500 in Chicago, is being 
vigorously prosecuted." 

Many mediums combine palmistry with their work, 
but this class of "workers" do not pander to the gen- 
uine spiritualists, who accept spiritualism as a religion 
or philosophy. One medium told me that it would 
surprise me to know the number of persons who come 
to them and want their assistance in love matters, in 
unearthing buried treasure, in forecasting the future, 


etc. In fact, the most of their money comes from this 
class of persons. 

I am acquainted with a young medium who com- 
bines palmistry with mediumship, and I shall give a 
little further on, the method which he constantly uses 
with great success. He at all times has in his pos- 
session a large number of cards bearing the questions 
and names of his patrons, which these latter wrote 
out; and who now think that the cards were burned. 
These frequently contain confessions and even ques- 
tions so indiscreetly worded as to reveal to the reader 
the innermost secrets of the writers' lives. It would 
be a great surprise to any one to read over a number 
of these signed questions. 

This medium presented me with a collection of these 
original cards, that are as interesting as a romance. 
I will not quote any of the more interesting or amusing 
ones for certain reasons, but I will quote one question 
or set of questions which reveals the "fortune-telling" 
ability required of a medium. These questions were 
written by one of the most intelligent of the medium's 
patrons who had been a school teacher for twenty 
years. I will omit the names for obvious reasons. 

"Three different men within two months have given 

me attention, of Boone, of Sioux City, 

and of Ogden. Which one loves me and 

which should I cultivate? Will be my hus- 
band, and will he be kind to me ? Does admire 

me, and are his attentions of a pure character? What 
shall I do next year? 

signed " ." 

The above is quoted literally and the original is in 
my possession. It will be seen that these questions 


(like most of the others) should more properly have 
been addressed to a fortune-teller. 

Before giving the method of the medium above 
referred to, I will state that he makes out a chart 
for each patron. He has the blanks printed and 
mounted in a tablet, and he fills out one of these for 
each sitter. I will first describe the chart. The sheets 
are eight and one-half by eleven inches. The left 
half of the lower half, contains the chart, while the 
right half of the same contains the name(?) of the 
medium. The upper half of the sheet is left blank, 
and on this the medium prepares a likeness of the 
sitter's palm. This is done in the following manner: 
The medium has a vessel on the table containing some 
cold cream, such as is used for chapped hands. He 
first rubs some of this over his own right palm. Next 
he takes the sitter's hand and rubs his right palm 
over it until it becomes coated with a small amount 
of the cold cream. 

He now spreads the chart over the head of an ordi- 
nary tambourine, and has the sitter place his palm on 
the upper portion of the chart, to spread the fingers, 
and press the palm tightly down on this sheet. While 
the sitter's palm is on the sheet the medium outlines 
the hand and fingers with a lead pencil. The sitter 
now removes his palm, leaving the outlines of the 
hand on the paper defined by the pencil marks. 

Next, the medium takes a small brush or pepper 
box, and dusts over this impression of the hand, 
some Prussian blue, a powder which he usually has 
in a vessel on the table. The blue powder adheres to 
the cold cream and then the paper is dusted off. There 
will be found to be an exact impression of the sitter's 


palm on the paper, with every "hue" defined very ac- 

Here is a copy of the blank form printed in the 
lower left corner of the chart : 

"birth MONTH. 
YOUR life's harmony. 

Your Lucky Figure is .... or any number 
that can be divided by it. 

Your Lucky Day is 

Your Lucky Stone is 

Lucky Year 

Your Lucky Months are 

Direction of Journeys You Will Take and 
the year taken 

Your Lucky Color is 

You will positively live to be years 

of age, and probably years older, 

unless you commit suicide. This is your 
Creator's design, printed, promised, and 
guaranteed in your hand. 

(Should you call again, please bring this hand with 
you as it will then cost you nothing.)" 

I shall now describe how this young medium and 
palmist gives his readings. He has each sitter write 
on a card a number of questions which the latter de- 
sires to have answered, and he also has the subject 
sign his or her name to them. These are white cards 
of a size of three by four and a quarter inches. 

The writing is done on one side only, and the card 
is folded each way with the writing inside. It is thus 
about one and one-half by two inches in size. The 
patron sits at a table while preparing this, and then 
the medium approaches the left side of the subject. 
He reaches and takes the subject's card in his right 
fingers and proceeds to grasp the other end of it with 


his left fingers. Now just as he does this, he leans 
forward, looking intently into the eyes of the sitter, 
and asks, ''Now my dear madam, did you write your 
name on this card?" He does this so earnestly and 
intently, that no one can help glancing into his face 
and answering. At the instant that the sitter glances 
up he quickly draws, with his left thumb, the original 
card back into the left palm, and pushes a duplicate 
forward into his right fingers. This move does not 
require a second ; and just as the sitter answers, the 
medium brings the right fingers containing the sit- 
ter's (?) card up against his forehead. He shudders, 
and then turning his right side towards the sitter, 
places the card against the sitter's forehead, and asks 
the sitter to place his palms against the medium's 
right hand and his own forehead. At this time his 
left hand goes into his left pocket on his side away 
from the sitter, to get a match with which to burn the 
card; and he secretly leaves the question card in his 
left pocket. 

He brings out the match and says, "I will burn this 
question." Suiting his action to the word, he strikes 
the match and lights the dummy card, placing it on 
a dish where it burns to ashes. 

Next, the medium prepares the impression of the sit- 
ter's hand, before described, which operation greatly 
interests the latter. Just as he finishes the preparation, 
he takes the sheet in his right hand, and holding it 
near the bare floor, dusts off the surplus powder. 
Now as he does this his left hand secretly gets from 
his left pocket the original question. When the chart 
is dusted off, he passes it into his left hand front side 
to the left, and grasps it with the left fingers con- 


taining the card under the sheet. The card is now 
effectually concealed. 

The medium now goes to his chair on the opposite 
side of the table, 2ind with his right hand takes from 
the table a small "blotter pad," with leather corners 
for slipping blotters into. This pad is such as is 
used for holding a blotter on an office desk to prevent 
the latter from becoming scratched, but this pad is 
of the exact size of the chart sheet. He brings this pad 
into a vertical position in front of him, and then with 
his left hand inserts the corners of the chart under the 
leather corners of this pad. The pad of course pre- 
vents the sitter seeing the sheet, as well as the con- 
cealed question card. He inserts the card in one 
corner, opening it out. He now appears to study the 
hand-impression for a while, meanwhile secretly read- 
ing the question and memorizing it. During this time 
he fills in an occasional blank on the chart, and asks 
the sitter certain questions relative to the date of his 
birth and such matters. Having now thoroughly 
memorized the question and name, the medium takes 
the pad in his left fingers and draws out the chart 
sheet with his right fingers. 

His left fingers keep the card under the leather 
holder across the corner. He then turns the pad upside 
down, laying it on the table naturally, and then lays 
the chart on this and finishes filling it out. As the pad 
is inverted, the card is under it and can not be seen. 
The medium fills out the chart and hands it to the 
sitter. The pad being on the opposite side of the 
table from the sitter, and having the concealed question 
under it, is out of the sitter's reach. 

While the sitter reads his chart, the medium takes 
up a city directory and gathers what information he 


can from it. He knows the subject's name; and in 
some of the smaller cities the directories furnish much 
information, even giving the various marriage licenses 
issued, v^ith their dates and other details. As the 
medium has removed the backs or cover from this 
directory and put on it the back from a book on 
"Mental Psychics," or something of the kind, he can 
open this book without creating a thought of suspi- 
cion in the mind of the subject. Now, laying his book 
of "Mental Psychics" on his pad, he goes around to 
the sitter, and, grasping the latter's hand, gives a 
splendid reading ; elaborating on his knowledge of the 
sitter, giving the latter's name, occupation, etc., and 
answering all of his written questions in detail. 

This is one of the most practical and best methods 
of giving a reading in existence. This secret has never 
been published before, is unknown to the dealers, and 
has never been sold. 


I HAVE recently met a medium who for some years 
traveled with a lady giving stage performances of 
the Annie Eva Fay variety. In this performance the 
spectators write questions which they desire answered, 
sign their names, and retain them. A lady who sits 
on the stage calls out the names of the respective 
writers, answering their questions in detail without 
seeing them. The spectators usually write on paper 
which is on tablets furnished by the company; but 
sometimes they write on their own paper, or bring 
their questions with them, having written them at 
their own homes before leaving. Sometimes the lady 
answers some question that some spectator did not 
write, but of which he is simply thinking. She also 
sometimes locates lost or stolen articles. 

The tablets furnished the spectators to write on, 
have the surface sheet on which they are to write, 
divided into four sections ; and each section is partly 
torn off, as if marking where each spectator is to 
tear off his slip after writing his question. Among 
the spectators there are a number of attendants who 
distribute the tablets, each in his own section of the 
house ; and after the writing they gather them up. In 
gathering up these tablets, the attendants pass around 


from aisle to aisle in the rear of the audience, where 
they secretly exchange them for ''dummy" tablets 
which are then carried down and deposited in a pile 
on the stage near the foot-lights. The originals are 
sent around secretly under the stage. 

The tablets are prepared as described elsewhere in 
this work, by having a sheet in each tablet, which has 
its under surface coated with white wax. The gentle- 
man referred to had, at each performance, to develop 
a large number of questions in a very short space of 
time. Usually some two dozen tablets were passed 
to the spectators, and generally four questions were 
written on the surface sheet of each tablet. As each 
spectator tore of¥ his section of the surface sheet after 
writing, no two impressions were ever superposed. 

He always places the prepared sheet in the tablet, 
so as to be the third sheet below the surface sheet, 
on which the spectators are to write. It transfers a 
good impression to the sheet next under it neverthe- 
less, and the spectators in retaining their questions 
have in their possession only unprepared paper. The 
prepared sheet can thus be used over and over again ; 
and it might be called a "white carbon" sheet, as it 
practically takes the place of an ordinary carbon sheet. 

This gentleman uses a paper that is fairly highly 
glazed, but nothing like the paper known as "onion 
skin." Neither is it very transparent or porous. A 
proper paper is of the utmost importance, but he 
could not tell me the best make to use. He could 
not find the variety he prefers in this city, but he 
found some that works nicely. This is stamped on 
the tablet, "The King's Crown." He prefers to use 
undiluted paraffin wax. He takes a large cake of it 
and trims oflf the hard surface smoothly, then holds 


the cake over a lighted lamp for a moment, moving it 
about until the mere surface of the wax is very 
slightly softened. He now rubs this over one surface 
of the sheet while it rests on a smooth surface. He 
applies considerable pressure ; and after rubbing it 
thoroughly he takes an ordinary ''case knife" and 
scrapes off all surplus wax. He now again rubs the 
sheet over lightly with the cake of wax, and then 
smooths it up by rubbing with his palm. He does 
this until he gets a fine surface that no one can tell is 

This sheet he places in position in the tablet, fasten- 
ing it with library paste. The older it gets the better 
it works, as the wax gets harder with age. He gives 
the hardness of this wax, as his reason for preferring 
it to spermaceti wax. This sheet gives a fine im- 
pression of the writing and I must say it works splen- 

He prefers plumbago to any of the powders for 
developing. He says this is on account of the weight 
of it, as this feature causes it to adhere to the wax 
better. He also prefers this powder because it slips 
off the paper so easily, leaving the sheet perfectly 
clean except where the wax impression is. He has 
a vessel under the stage containing the plumbago. He 
takes each impression sheet, and holding it over this 
vessel at an angle of forty-five degrees, pours a large 
spoonful of the powder on its top portion. The pow- 
der runs down to the bottom of the sheet, falling back 
into the vessel. The sheet is left perfectly clean, ex- 
cept the writing is now very plain. Sometimes he 
mixes a little powdered charcoal in the plumbago, 
when he can not get a black variety of the latter. This 
is merely to blacken the powder more, and the plum- 


bago gives it the weight. His impressions are much 
plainer than the original writing ; and I must say, after 
witnessing him develop some of these, that I prefer his 
method to any other. He can develop all of the sheets 
and hand them to a confederate at a telephone in a 
period of five minutes. 

The man at the telephone reads the questions and 
names into it. This latter is connected to two ordi- 
nary wire nails that are driven through the stage floor 
from above. The lady on the stage has a receiver 
such as telephone operators use, (with the head portion 
removed) concealed under her hair, which is dressed 
low with two curls over the former. Wires from it 
lead down, under her clothing through her shoes to 
copper plates on their soles. She merely places a foot 
on each nail head when she takes her seat, and she 
thus hears all of the questions and names distinctly. 
This method is superior to the original method wherein 
the lady was enveloped with a sheet which reached to 
the floor, and then a speaking tube was pushed up 
through the floor, under the sheet, to a position near 
her ear. It is also superior to the "foot telegraph," 
which has been employed on occasions. 
r^ ^- ^ 

Sometimes, during the performance, the lady reads 
questions which the subjects wrote on their own paper. 
This is called by some performers ''reading the house 
questions" for the reason that the writers of the ques- 
tions frequently write them at their own houses. 

When an attendant sees a spectator in "his section of 
the house," either with a "house question" in his hand, 
or in the act of writing one on his own paper, this 
spectator is immediately "spotted." The attendant 
now secretly learns this person's name from the local 


manager, or from some other prominent person. He 
sends it around, together with the spectator's occupa- 
tion, if possible. A directory is also handy under the 
stage and this is consulted ; and the name, and all in- 
formation is telephoned up to the lady on the stage. 
Now, during the performance, as the lady answers 
each spectator's question, an attendant steps to this 
person; and \vhile the lady is reading and answering 
it, he says to the spectator, "Let me see if she gets it 
right." He generally takes the question out of the 
spectator's hand for an instant, and then returns it. 
Now, when the lady begins, by calling the name of the 
writer of a ''house question," an attendant immediately 
steps to this person and either catches a glimpse of 
the question, or asks to see it as in the other cases. 
If he takes it, he instantly returns it. IMean while the 
lady on the stage has given the spectator his name, has 
told him his business, and has given him some whole- 
some advice, etc. She seems to have difficulty in read- 
ing his question, however, and the floor-manager di- 
rects her to "go to something else and not to keep the 
audience waiting, but to come back to this question 
later." This she does. 

Now this attendant has in his right coat pocket a 
small tablet and pencil. With his hand in this pocket, 
he secretly writes the spectator's question on a sheet, 
tears it off and folds it up so it is small. He is usually 
in the rear of the aisle while doing this. The floor- 
manager now happens ( ?) to pass him, and he secretly 
passes this copy to the latter. The floor-manager next 
passes down the aisle to the foot lights and allows his 
right hand to rest on the stage just back of the 
"dummy" tablets. Here there is a slight crack in the 
floor through which he secretly slips the question to 


a confederate under the stage, while he is addressing 
the audience in relation to what the lady is doing. 

In a short time the lady states that this former spec- 
tator seems to keep coming to her, that "she can not 
get him out of her mind," and that she "gets the im- 
pressions that he wants to know so and so," according 
to what his question is. She now answers it for him. 

Sometimes there is a "run-down" from the stage, 
and in such cases the floor-manager allows his hand 
to rest carelessly on it while talking to the spectators. 
In such cases there is a confederate concealed under 
the "run-down" who receives the question when the 
floor-manager secretly slips it through a crack in the 
former, and he passes it on to the man at the tele- 

Some performers still use the old prepared pads that 
have a carbon sheet concealed within them, but I 
think the method given here is the very latest. The 
lady soon learns the nature of the majority of the ques- 
tions asked, and can thus frequently mention questions 
that certain persons in the room are "thinking of and 
have not even written." This always makes a "big 
hit" ; and then, when some confederate in the audience 
who has been paid to lose some valuable at some defi- 
nite place, receives an answer to his query telling him 
where it can be found, and a committee goes out and 
finds it, the reputation of the performer is made and 
the performance is well attended after that. 

It would surprise many to know how many really 
intelligent persons take these performances seriously. 
A lady has recently given a "two weeks stand" with 
this performance in Omaha, and has packed her hall 
regularly. An attorney in my block had his "house 
question" read and is very enthusiastic. He assures 


me that his question never left his hands at all ; but 
I know that it did, for I am well acquainted with the 
lady's manager, and know her "system" well. The 
receiver which she wears is held in position just above 
her ear until the manager blindfolds her. He then 
secretly draws it down over the ear together with the 
hair covering it, and binds it there. When he takes 
off the bandage it is drawn back in place by some con- 
cealed elastic. 


SOMETIMES when a medium is left in a cabinet 
with his hands tied together and the knots sealed, 
his vest will be found to be turned wrong side out 
under his coat when the manifestations are over. 

Also, when a subject is left in a cabinet with a 
medium and his hands are tied behind him and sealed, 
the subject's vest is sometimes turned wrong side out 
under his coat, neither coat or vest being removed. 

This at first sight seems impossible ; but it is as 
simple as "working" a toy puzzle. I will first explain 
how to turn a gentleman's vest when his hands are 
tied behind him. 

A gentleman should be selected, if possible, who is 
not too heavily built, one whose coat and vest are not 
made of too heavy material, and that fit loosely ; as 
with these the work can be done more rapidly. After 
the subject's hands are tied together behind him, the 
medium steps behind the subject, and, taking his coat 
by the collar, draws it down and from over his shoul- 
ders so that it is entirely removed from his body, and 
is merely supported by his two arms which pass 
through the two sleeves. Next the vest is brought into 
the same position as the coat. In this position the 
coat is under the vest, both are merely on the subject's 
arms behind him, and both have their wrong sides 


Now, before the vest can be turned, it must first be 
separated from the coat and drawn upon one arm and 
the coat must be drawn upon the other arm. To do 
this, it is necessary to pass the coat entirely through 
one arm-hole of the vest. 

I usually pass the coat entirely through the right 
arm-hole of the vest. The right sleeve of the coat is 
drawn through first, then the body of the coat, and 
after this the left sleeve of the coat. As this is done, 
it is necessary to move the vest over the coat to the 
left. This brings the vest on the subject's left arm 
and it is now ready for turning. 

Al that is necessary in turning the vest is to reach 
the hand through the left arm-hole and grasp the 
lower right front corner of the vest and pull it up 
through the left arm-hole, drawing it as far as can 
be done. Next, again reach the hand through the left 
arm-hole of the vest and this time grasp the left front 
corner at the bottom and draw it up through the left 
arm-hole as far as possible. The entire vest has now 
passed through its left arm-hole and the vest is turned. 

Next comes the task of replacing the vest. It must 
first be placed in its original position over the coat, so 
it is necessary to now pass the coat through the right 
arm-hole of the vest. The moves are just the reverse of 
the moves that were used when it was passed through 
in the first place. As soon as the vest is over the coat 
on the arms it can be drawn up over the subject's 
shoulders into position as when worn. It is now 
wrong side out, and the coat is next drawn up over 
the shoulders of the subject into its usual position 
over the vest as when worn. The vest is now under 
the coat, and both in their natural positions, except 
that the vest is wrong side out. 


If any one will place a vest without any coat upon 
a common broom-stick, and reach through either arm- 
hole and draw through first the far lower front corner 
of the vest, and then the near lower front corner, the 
vest can be turned wrong side out in this manner, and 
the reader will immediately see the possibility of the 
trick; and that it is necessary to first get the vest 
upon one arm by itself in order to do the turning. 

To turn one's own vest, the hands must be tied in 
front of one, and with sufficient length of string to 
allow some eight inches of play. Now it is only neces- 
sary to "shed" the coat and vest over the head upon 
the arms in front of one, when the same maneuvers can 
be gone through as in the other case. After turning 
and replacing the vest over the coat, the medium can 
give the coat and vest a toss over his head and slip 
into position again with them on his person ; but the 
vest is now wrong side out. 


THERE is an improvement on the old-time trick 
known as ''Washington Irving Bishop's Sealed 
Letter Reading." I will give a description of how it is 
worked. The operator requests each spectator to write 
on a slip of paper given him a question which he de- 
sires to have answered ; and to fold the same a certain 
number of times with the writing inside. 

The operator now gathers up these billets on a tray 
and places them on a table in full view of the company. 
However, just before gathering up the billets, the 
operator conceals a folded blank billet between the 
ends of his first and second fingers ; and while gather- 
ing up the billets, he leaves this blank on the tray 
with the others, and secretly purloins a genuine billet 
in its place. The blank is folded somewhat dififerently 
from the others so that the performer can tell at a 
glance which one it is. 

The performer now retires to another room to bring 
a glass of water before beginning this ''trying work," 
and while out he opens and reads the question. He 
quickly memorizes it, folds it again, secretes it be- 
tween the ends of his fingers, and returns to the 

He now faces the spectators, standing behind the 
table on which are the billets. He next takes up a 


genuine billet from the tray, and pressing it against 
his forehead, proceeds to anszver the question hut not 
to read it. Let us suppose the question is. "Will I 
take a trip to Chicago next summer?" The operator 
instead of reading this question, proceeds something 
like this: ''I get an impression of an answer which 
seems to be, 'Yes, if walking is good.' Now that 
sounds queer, doesn't it? I wonder what kind of a 
question that can be ?" Suiting the action to the word 
he opens the billet and reads the question. 

Let us suppose this second question to be, "When 
will I be married?" The operator, instead of reading 
it aloud, repeats the first question which he secretly 
read when outside getting water. He remarks, "Will 
I take a trip to Chicago this summer?" audibly, as if 
it were on the billet, and then folds the latter again. 
Meanwhile he has secretly memorized the second ques- 

When folded, he apparently takes the billet out of 
his left hand with his right fingers, and hands it to 
the writer. In reality he palms the one just folded, 
and taking out the first billet, he presents it to its 
writer. The spectators do not know that he now has 
another billet in his left palm. He next picks up 
another billet with his right hand, and placing it to 
his head, says, "I get an answer which sounds like, 
Tt looks a long way off.' Now that is a queer answer, 
isn't it? I wonder what that question is." He again 
opens the billet, reading and memorizing the third 
question secretly, and at the same time pronouncing 
verbally the second question which was, "When will 
I be married?" He now folds the third question, and 
when appearing to take it out of his left hand with 
the fingers of his right, again takes out the palmed 


duplicate, presenting it to its writer. He proceeds in 
this manner, being always one billet behind in his read- 
ing, and leaves the blank billet until the last. 

When he comes to this blank he does not open it at 
all, but reads and answers it while pressing it against 
his forehead. He now ''shifts" it in his palm, and re-- 
turns the last genuine billet to its writer, retaining the 
blank concealed in his palm. I believe the credit for 
this improved method belongs to Mr. Edward Bene- 




Letter to Mr. Abbott. 
Dear Sir: 

I had the pleasure, some time ago, of reading an 
article of yours in The Open Court on "Mediumistic 
Phenomena." Of the following which I submit to you, 
I feel that I will be satisfied with the explanations you 
may make. I am not a spiritualist, but while visiting 
some friends in Kansas City, recently, who are spir- 
itualists, I was invited to attend a "trumpet" seance 
given at a private house. Out of curiosity I attended. 
The seance was held in an unfurnished back room up 
stairs. All the room contained was a row of chairs 
around the wall. In the center on the floor was a small 
rug on which stood a large trumpet and some flowers. 
A lady clairvoyant from Topeka conducted the seance. 
In the circle were believers and unbelievers. We were 
seated around the room with feet touching. Lights 
were put out and we were in black darkness. They 
said the medium was controlled by an Irish spirit. 
Presently the Irish spirit spoke through the trumpet 
giving us a welcome greetmg. After this each one in 
turn was spoken to by supposed dead relatives. 

When it came to my turn, a sister who has been dead 


many years spoke her name and talked to me. (No 
one in the circle knew anything about me except a 
sister-in-law who was with me.) I had not been think- 
ing of this sister, but of others whom it might be pos- 
sible would appear, and my sister-in-law said, she had 
not. I have no faith in it all, but would like your ex- 
planation, if you will be kind enough to favor me with 
it. I would like you to explain another thing. My 
sister-in-law told me she had seen her husband, who 
died about a year ago. She said she saw him as 
plainly as she ever did in life ; that he came through 
the front door, went right up to her, spoke a few words 
and disappeared. This she declares to be true. 

I will tell you of another instance. A daughter of 
the sister-in-law of whom I have spoken, when quite 
a little girl, saw my mother who had died some time 
before. She went up-stairs and in one of the rooms 
she saw my mother sitting in a rocking-chair. She 
ran screaming down-stairs, almost frightened to death. 
At another time she saw her standing by the stove in 
the room. This all seems very strange to me, but I 
have no reason to doubt their word. 

Very respectfully. 

Dear Madam : 

Your letter is received. It is hard to explain some- 
thing some one else has seen ; when, to do so correctly, 
one should have been present to personally observe all 
the little details, for trickery. 

I will say that no one would be more happy than I 
were it possible to prove personal immortality in this 
manner; yet I do not wish to be deceived and to be- 
lieve that which is not true. Therefore, I always look 


for fraud or trickery in manifestations of this nature. 
I will further add that in all my life I have been look- 
ing for things of this kind, and have never yet been 
able to see one little thing that was genuine. Always, 
when I have been present, I have found a trick. 

I have attended but one "Trumpet Seance," which 
was some eight or ten years ago in Lincoln, Nebraska. 
This was given at the home of a lady where the me- 
dium stopped ; and as the family was poor, the lady 
was glad to have the medium's seances a success, so 
that she might receive the proper financial remunera- 
tion for his board. 

The room was bare of furniture, and the guests were 
seated around the room on chairs holding each other's 
hands. The medium sat in this circle, and the trum- 
pet stood in the center of the circle. 

As soon as the lights were out the trumpet appar- 
ently floated into the air, and from its mouth we were 
greeted by an ''Irish Spirit." This spirit attempted 
to be a comedian; but his brogue was unnatural, and 
his wit was so poor that I felt ashamed for the me- 
dium. It, however, seemed to satisfy the majority of 
the sitters, who appeared to be possessed of only very 
ordinary mental powers. 

Tests were given to various persons present ; but as 
no one present knew anything about me, I, of course, 
received no test. 

I was satisfied that the medium held the trumpet to 
his mouth and did the talking. I knew that by point- 
ing it rapidly in different directions, the voice would 
appear to come from the various positions occupied 
by the bell of the trumpet ; and the spirit would thus 
appear to change places rapidly over our heads. 

I felt certain that the persons sitting on each side 


of the medium were his confederates, and that they 
held the hands of the ones next to them ; but, of course, 
released the medium's hands so that he could handle 
the trumpet. 

I was inclined to think that there were a goodly 
number of confederates in the circle, who probably 
shared in the proceeds of the seance ; for I found the 
persons next to me would not let my hands loose for 
even an instant. I felt sure that confederates took 
possession of all strangers, and saw to it that their 
hands were not released ; and thus they prevented acci- 

To me it seemed merely a very cheap and poor trick. 
I have never fancied any trick where the lights had to 
be put out. It requires too little skill to perform such 
tricks. I have always felt that if the spirits of the de- 
parted could return to us mortals, they would not re- 
quire a tin horn to talk through, and the entire ab- 
sence of light-waves in the room. To me this all 
savors too much of charlatanism, and that of the 
cheapest kind. 

Some time after I attended this seance, I had some 
financial dealings with the daughter of the lady at 
whose home this medium had boarded. I told the 
daughter what I had concluded in regard to the matter, 
and she confessed that I was right in every particular. 
I thus verified all my suspicions in the case. This lady 
told me that there was money in this business and that 
she intended going into the profession. This she did 
soon thereafter, advertising as a clairvoyant and trance 
medium. I understand that she has become quite suc- 
cessful in the business. 

There is one statement in your letter that is entitled 
to considerable more consideration than ordinary work 



of this kind. This Is the statement of the appearance 
of your dead sister's voice, when no one in the room 
knew of this sister except your sister-in-law who was 
with you. In regard to this I cannot say positively 
how the medium obtained the necessary information 
in your particular case ; but I know the methods em- 
ployed in securing such information by nearly all the 
first-class professional mediums who are traveling over 
the country. 

Each medium keeps a record of all information ob- 
tained in a book for that purpose. All questions asked 
by any persons at any of the seances, are catalogued 
alphabetically in this book under the names of the per- 
sons asking them. Also the medium catalogues alpha- 
betically any other information he may be able to ob- 
tain about any of the persons who attend spiritualist 
meetings. When visiting with the members and gos- 
siping the medium quietly "pumps" each person about 
other members. As soon as the medium is alone all 
this information Is catalogued in this book. Children 
are questioned adroitly about their own relatives, and 
about those of their neighbors and friends ; and all this 
is added to the store of information. 

Graveyards are visited and the secrets of the tombs 
catalogued. Also, the old files of the daily papers are 
searched for information relating to deaths and mar- 
riages; and, by all these ways, in time the book con- 
tains many tests of value to a medium. When this 
medium leaves town, the book (or a copy) is passed 
on to the next medium, who enters town equipped 
with all the information previously gathered. Pro- 
fessional mediums are generally pretty well known to 
each other, although for obvious reasons they pretend 
not to be. 


Some of the better grade of mediums have an ad- 
vance person, who, in the guise of an agent of some 
kind, visits the proper families. During the time he is 
in each home, he asks for a drink of water ; and while 
the lady is getting it, he studies the family Bible and 
the album, or questions the children about such mat- 
ters as will be of use to the medium who will soon fol- 
low. In all of these manners much information is 
secured in the course of time. It is not unusual for a 
good medium to enter town with over a hundred good 
tests for the citizens there. 

In addition to the above there are certain members 
of each spiritualistic community who make a business 
of acting as confederates for mediums. They usually 
receive pay for their services. You would be surprised 
were you once behind the scenes, and a performer, to 
know how many apparently respectable persons at a 
seance are secretly confederates of the medium. These 
confederates make it their business to learn all they 
can of the family history of their neighbors, or of any 
friends or relatives visiting their neighbors ; which in- 
formation is at once conveyed to the medium, and the 
same properly catalogued. 

You would think that respectable persons would not 
take part in fraud in such matters ; but they get into 
it gradually, and really come to enjoy it. I am per- 
sonally acquainted with a certain sleight-of-hand per- 
former in this city, who has for years served as a con- 
federate for most of the mediums visiting this place. 
He tells me that he enjoyed it at first, but being so 
well versed in tricks, his services were of so much 
value to mediums that they were after him to help 
them out continually. This required so much of his 


time that he has of late given up this work and now 
refuses to attend seances at all. 

In addition to these methods of obtaining informa- 
tion, most members are so anxious to see some one 
converted, that what information they possess is not 
guarded from the medium very closely. In fact, they 
seem in many cases to be trying to help the medium 
out. They are all so anxious to see their medium 
succeed ; and are very quick to feel proud of him, when 
such tests are given. 

There can be little doubt but that the information 
about your dead sister was obtained in some of these 
manners from your sister-in-law or her family, espe- 
cially if she has children. No doubt some confederate 
has heard her mention your dead sister's name, in 
some time past. This may have escaped your relative's 
memory. Or, if she is a believer, she has undoubtedly 
attended other seances, and asked questions, usually 
written ones. If so, the mediums may have been in 
possession of the proper information for some con- 
siderable time. 

I feel certain that this information was gained in 
some such manner; and while you may doubt this 
explanation, I feel that were I to go there and begin 
operating as a medium, the confederates would soon 
make themselves known to me; and that I could 
quickly learn where the medium got her information 
in your case. 

You thought you were a stranger ; but you may rest 
assured that you were known as soon as you entered 
the room, and that a test was planned for you that 
would make a sensation. And they probably hoped 
also to make a convert. 

It is probable that your dead sister bore the same 

APPENDIX. - 273 

relation to your sister-in-law that you do. If this be 
the case, and she being dead, your sister-in-law would 
have been almost certain at some meeting some time, 
to have asked some question, which, within its lines, 
conveyed the information that there was such a per- 
son then dead. 

It is a great advantage to mediums to be able to 
give tests of this character; the effect being so great 
on those present and so convincing, it adds greatly to 
the medium's reputation, as well as to his finances, 
to be able to give such tests. As a result, a medium 
is always on the lookout for such information ; and 
makes securing it his principal employment when not 
engaged at the regular work. You may rest assured 
that a medium will not hesitate to use such information 
in the manner you have outlined, no matter how he 
may have come into possession of it. 

Frequently, when such tests are given, the ones re- 
ceiving them are so taken by surprise and so greatly 
impressed, owing to their affection for the departed 
and their longing to feel that the departed still exists 
as an individual or unit, that they imagine afterwards 
that they noticed a resemblance in the voice, to that 
of their dear one. I do not know whether or not you 
noticed such a resemblance to your sister's voice. 

There are dealers who sell to mediums secrets which 
give them instructions for performing their work. I 
have bought many such secrets myself, paying a large 
price for them ; and I can assure you that I know 
what I am talking about in this instance. 

The fact that dealers in such secrets can follow the 
business successfully, is proof that they receive suffi- 
cient patronage to support it, and this patronage comes 
almost entirely from professional mediums. 


I could recall to you many instances of fraudulent 
mediums, had I time and space to do so. I hope at 
a future time to publish in The Open Court another 
article, describing the work of some of the best me- 
diums. If ever you come to Omaha, I should be 
pleased to make your acquaintance ; and would per- 
sonally illustrate to you what may be accomplished 
by trickery in this field. 

As to the apparitions which your sister-in-law and 
her daughter claim to have seen, there are but three 
solutions possible. 

First: There is the solution that the statement is 
not true; but as you assure me you have every con- 
fidence in their truth, I will not consider this solution. 

Second and Third: We have the solutions either 
that they did see what they claim to have seen ob- 
jectively ; or that they imagine that they did, but really 
saw it subjectively. There is no professional medium 
at work here, and consequently no trickery to explain. 

If the doctrine of scientific men (as for instance set 
forth in Dr. Carus's Soul of Man) be correct, each 
object viewed throughout life leaves an impression 
in our brain-structures. When such object is first 
viewed, the form of the outside motions of the ether 
(light- waves) is transferred to the proper position 
within the brain by the mechanism of the nervous sys- 
tem. Here this produces a commotion and as a result 
this commotion leaves a "trace" which is preserved in 
the brain structure. 

When such trace is being formed, the subject ex- 
periences subjectively a sensation which he identifies 
with the outside object producing it. The fact is the 
formal features of the outside object have been trans- 
ferred to, or reproduced in, the sensation. When next 


the same object is viewed, the same nerve energy 
passes along the same channels into the same trace and 
stimulates or excites it again as was done in the first 
instance. During this process the subject again ex- 
periences the same sensation as was experienced in 
the first instance. The subject recognizes the sensa- 
tion to be the same as the first one experienced, and 
naturally attributes it to the same outside cause. 

If, now, this particular trace in the brain structure 
be artificially excited or stimulated by any means, the 
subject will experience the original sensation, and will 
perceive the object that originally formed such a trace. 
The perception will be just as real to the subject as 
was the original perception, or as it would be if the 
exciting cause were the original object outside. The 
original object could not produce a perception more 
real to the subject, because it could only excite or 
stimulate the same trace in the same manner ; and the 
subject would have no means to distinguish between 
two identical impressions, although produced by differ- 
ent causes. 

It is due to such local excitements and stimulations 
that we see objects in our sleep, just as real as if they 
existed objectively in the positions in which our per- 
ceptions picture them. 

Now, if, from any cause, a highly-strung, sensitive, 
or nervous person, stimulate or excite any particular 
trace in the brain-structure, he will see subjectively 
but as perfectly real, the original object that formed 
this trace. Such person is most liable to excite in this 
way that portion of the brain wherein is the image of 
some dear one on whom the mind has been dwelling 
too intently ; and which has thus been overworked, so 


that the mechanism of this particular part of the sen- 
tient substance has been weakened and impaired. 

If we conclude that your relatives really saw these 
dead persons objectively, this can only mean that these 
dead persons were really present in this room. Now, 
if they were clothed as in life, we must also conclude 
that the clothing of persons as well as their spiritual 
part is immortal. As Ingersoll said, we must conclude 
that clothing has ghosts. But if we accept the theory 
of a mere subjective apparition or illusion, caused by 
a local excitement in the brain structures, we should 
naturally expect the images to be clothed as in life. 

The question is, which do you regard as most prob- 
able: that your relatives really saw the spiritual part 
of two beings objectively — that is, the part that is not 
m^aterial, and that it had this material appearance — or 
that they saw a mere subjective apparition within their 
own brains? I should prefer the subjective theory. 

I remain, dear m^adam, yours for truth, 

David P. Abbott. 

Second Letter of Mr. Abbott. 
Dear Madam : 

Since writing my former letter, it has been my good 
fortune to come into possession of a little information 
that might interest you; accordingly, I write you this 
second letter. 

There recently arrived in Omaha two "Celebrated 
Occultists." They hired a hall and some parlors, and 
began a series of public meetings, seances, and private 
readings. They had considerable difficulty in securing 
rooms as the property owners were afraid of the repu- 
tation their property might acquire of being "haunted." 
Finally the papers came out with quite a sympathetic 


article in their behalf, with the result that they have 
started off very prosperously. There is an attendance 
of three or four hundred persons at their Sunday 
night meetings, while they have from thirty to forty 
at the parlor seances; and during the day they are 
continually employed giving private readings. 

I called on these mediums, and was surprised to 
find that the principal medium was the lady I formerly 
knew in Lincoln, Nebraska, to whom I referred in my 
former letter. She has been regularly in the profes- 
sion for the past nine or ten years, has a good ac- 
quaintance with all the professional mediums, and 
comes direct from Kansas City, Missouri. 

She recognized me at once, and seems to intend 
making a convert of me. She has evidently forgotten 
the little confession she made to me just before enter- 
ing the profession. 

I had several little confidential visits with her man- 
ager, and incidentally mentioned to him the name of 
a certain dealer in secrets for the use of mediums, 
stating that I was familiar with most of the effects of 
the kind, and was a performer of them. This seemed 
to "break the ice," and he was ready enough to give 
me any information he possessed about other mediums, 
at the same time claiming that his medium was, of 
course, genuine. 

I find that the lady who gave the seance you wrote 
me about is an acquaintance of theirs. They know 
her well, and her name is Miss . 

You will know if this be right and if my informa- 
tion be correct. He assured me that her mediumship 
is fraudulent, and informed me that she has an arti- 
ficial hand which she frequently uses in her 'Trumpet 
Seances." This hand is attached to the person and can 


be bent into different positions. When she sits with 
the subject next to her, she takes hold of the subject's 
two hands with her left hand, and, incidentally, does 
not let loose of them during the seance. This is done 
after the lights are out. Then she, with her remaining 
hand, bends down the artificial hand (which has been 
concealed in her clothing), so that its fingers clasp the 
arm of the sitter. The subject can then inform the 
spectators at all times that the medium has both hands 
on his person. Meanwhile, the medium's right hand 
is free to grasp the light aluminum trumpet, and point 
it into different positions while she talks through it. 
She also, on occasions, uses a telescopic reaching-rod 
which can be carried in the pocket, but when extended 
it reaches a length of several feet, and enables her to 
float the trumpet on its end around the room over the 
heads of the spectators, giving them an occasional 
"bump," while her voice can be heard in the position 
where she sits. This is done in the same manner that 
guitars and other instruments (frequently self-play- 
ing) are sometimes floated over the heads of a circle 
of sitters by many mediums. This is done while they 
apparently hold the hands of one of the spectators at 
their side of the circle. 

I asked the manager how he considered that the 
medium got her information about your dead sister. 
He replied that she undoubtedly got it from what is 
known to certain members of the profession as the 
"Blue Book." This is the book I referred to before 
in which the tests are alphabetically catalogued for 
each town. He said that his medium never uses the 
"Blue Book" as her mediumship is genuine ; but, how- 
ever, he has in his possession a similar book of Kansas 
City. I asked if I could find the information about 


your dead sister in his book ; but he said that possibly 
he did not have that particular item, although there 
could be no doubt but that it was contained in the 

book of the lady or of the noted medium Mr. , 

as these two have worked together to a considerable 

There can be no doubt but that all the questions that 
your relative ever asked the mediums in any of the 
Kansas City meetings, have been preserved and cata- 
logued ; and thus the information about your dead 
sister may have been obtained for some considerable 
time. Although the medium was a stranger to you, it 
is quite certain that you were known to the medium 
when the seance began. This is part of their business, 
and the knowledge of a suitable number of "tests" is 
a medium's stock in trade. 

I remain, dear madam, very truly yours, 

David P. Abbott. 

Inquirer's Reply to Mr. Abbott. 
Dear Sir: 

Your communication which I have just received de- 
serves an early reply. 

The name of the medium who held the seance was 

, the same as you mentioned. I was introduced 

to her but I never heard her given name. Of course, 

she must be the same one. I saw her and Mr. at 

a Sunday evening meeting at their hall, so you are on 
the right track.* 

* Since the above correspondence was first published, I 
have journeyed to Kansas City, Mo., and had a sitting with 
the medium herein referred to. I found her performance to 
be a simple fraud. 

After the seance I privately complimented her on her power 
^ modulate her voice, informed her I was a performer, and 


I do not see how any one can practice so much fraud 
in such serious matters. 

Thanking you for your kindness, 

I am very respectfully, 


Dr. Burgess to The Open Court. 

One would hardly expect any proof of the future 
life to reach his ear in the dark through an aluminum 
horn. But if it was not what it purported to be, the 
puzzle is to know what else it could have been. Like 
your valued contributor, Mr. Abbott, I have usually 
had little trouble in arriving at a solution of such 
puzzles. But this one stumps me, and I should be 
glad to have him help me out, if he will kindly do so. 
For I am satisfied that the ''spirit" in this exceptional 
case did not inhabit the medium's body, and Mr. Abbott 
seems as anxious as I am to be convinced that the 
spirits of departed friends may really live without any 
bodies whatever. It is a plain proposition that there 
can be no life without wear and tear upon the means 
of its production. To believe in the future life, there- 
fore, one must confess that he believes in something 
that utterly passes his comprehension. But we not 

offered to give her some instruction if she should so desire. 
She, seeing my knowledge of the profession, made no claim 
to genuineness after this. 

She said that if I could give her any instruction that would 
aid her in making a living, that she would be very grateful; 
for she said that she had an invalid husband somewhere in 
Colorado whom she had to support. I thereupon taught her 
a slate trick which she accepted gratefully, and I left her 
practicing it. ^ I may have done wrong in increasing her pow- 
ers of deception, but at least I satisfied myself as to her hon- 
esty. — D. p. A. 


only believe In many uncomprehended things but know 
them to be true. Just as we will believe in this trum- 
pet affair — that it was done by spirit agency — unless 
some one can point out how else it could be done. 
There will be doubting Thomases in any event ; but 
the writer, with seventy-five years of life behind him, 
cannot help feeling that he will soon be in a position 
to know the truth of the matter — or else to be lost in 
the depths of utter knownothingness. 

The puzzling occurrence alluded to took place at a 
trumpet seance which, for precautionary reasons, was 
held at my own house ; and the medium and members 
of my own household were the only persons present. 
None of those present except myself had ever seen 
the medium before, and I had simply met her once to 
make arrangements for her coming. She was an in- 
telligent, middle-aged woman of somewhat reserved 
but agreeable manners, and she came alone to the se- 
ance bringing no paraphernalia with her except the 
trumpet. She never to my knowledge advertised her- 
self or gave public seances. 

She readily consented to be bound to her chair in 
such a way as to effectually prevent any movement 
of her hands or body, and the tapes she was bound with 
were finally tacked to the floor so that the chair itself 
could not be moved without detection. In fact, in the 
stillness of the room it would have been impossible for 
any person to move about without attracting atten- 
tion. Having taken these precautions, it seemed a 
foregone conclusion that any trickery or collusion with 
confederates on the part of the medium was simply 
out of the question. 

The trumpet occupied a position several feet in front 
of the medium, and after a tedious wait in the dark. 


we were finally startled by hearing it move. Shortly 
afterward faint whispers were heard through it which 
soon became so strong as to be partly or wholly under- 
stood. And now jocularity gave place to intense in- 
terest, and the anomalous character of the proceedings 
was lost sight of as the names of friend after friend 
were feebly given. No one could help sympathizing 
with them in their heroic efforts to be heard and under- 
stood. And not all of these efforts were made through 
the trumpet. Clearly some of the whisperings were 
outside and independent of it. 

Not much of details will be necessary to my pres- 
ent purpose. Suffice it to say that, one after another, 
the trumpet came close to every one of us, giving the 
names of departed friends and relations most of whom 
had never been within thousands of miles of San 
Francisco. But the marvel was how the trumpet could 
move about so rapidly and unerringly in the dark, 
caressing us gently on the hands, cheeks, top of the 
head and elsewhere, and occasionally dropping on the 
floor with a thud as though the force which sustained 
it was well nigh exhausted. Once, indeed, it fell near 
me with sufficient force to drive the two sections of 
it together so that I had to pull them apart again be- 
fore the performance could be proceeded with. As 
a further illustration of the mysterious forces em- 
ployed, raps, some of them loud and jarring, were 
occasionally heard upon the doors and walls of the 
room in various places, and once the tall doors of my 
bookcase were rapidly swung back and forth a num- 
ber of times as if to make sure that it had attracted 
attention. No person in the room was in a position 
to have swung the doors or made the raps without 
leaving their seats, and thus attracting attention. Many 


remarkable things were said by the trumpet voices, but 
I pass them by as merely cumulative evidence. 

The puzzle is to account for the remarkable doings 
of the trumpet which were as much or more mysti- 
fving than its sayings. 

It is needless to add that when the lights were 
turned on the medium was found securely bound in 
her place as we had left her when the lights were 
turned out. O. O. Burgess. 

Mr. Abbott's Reply. 

I have read the communication of Doctor Burgess, 
and it is evident that he is quite critical, and that this 
case is worthy of attention. I have attended trumpet 
seances quite recently, also rope- and tape-tying se- 
ances, but have not attended a seance where the two 
were combined. 

I take it for granted that the persons present were 
all so nearly related to the Doctor that the possibility of 
confederates being employed was entirely out of the 

As the Doctor says, I should be glad to prove per- 
sonal immortality in any manner if possible to do so, 
yet I should want to be quite certain that there was 
no resort to trickery in the case. I have investigated 
so many cases and found so much fraud that naturally 
I always expect to find it. 

It would be no reflection on the Doctor, if he were 
deceived by a clever trick, for the most intelligent 
are easily deceived by an art with which they are not 

It would be impossible for me to explain the exact 
method this medium used, unless I could see her work. 
I can only describe work of a similar kind with which 


I am familiar, and explain how it is done. I am aware 
that this does not prove the present case to have been 
clever trickery; yet if this work is duplicated fre- 
quently by trickery, it is strong evidence that the me- 
dium resorted to the same means in this case. 

In regard to rope- and tape-tying, I will not enter 
into a detailed explanation of the various tricks of the 
kind used by professional mediums and conjurors, as 
this would require altogether too much space. Suffice 
it to say that the Davenport Brothers originated the 
first rope-tying experiments. They were bound in 
the most thorough manner, and left in their cabinet ; 
when the most marvelous manifestations would take 
place as soon as the curtains w^ere drawn. It was sup- 
posed that spirits appeared in the cabinet through the 
occult powers of the Davenports, and performed these 
maneuvers in order to convince unbelieving mortals. 
It was many years before the secret of their original 
tie was discovered. I will refer the reader to the 
work. The Spirit World Unmasked, by Henry Ridgely 
Evans, for a full account of this. 

Soon after the appearance of the Davenports, other 
mediums experimented and invented many different 
ties. Finally the conjurors took the subject up, and 
the secrets of such ties became common property. 
One has but to witness Kellar, the magician, on the 
stage using his best spirit tie, to realize the possibilities 
of this art. The committee tie his hands behind him 
very tightly; yet he will instantly bring either hand 
forward and exhibit it, place it behind himself, and 
turn his back ; when his hands will be seen to be tied 
together as tightly as ever. The committee think 
that they tie his hands in their own way. 

Yost & Company of Philadelphia, dealers in magical 


apparatus, spiritualistic secrets, etc., advertise for sale 
the secrets of a tie which they call "Kellar's Best Tie." 

It is doubtful if any rope-tying experiments ever 
performed were equal to that of the Davenports. Their 
work was surely the greatest mystery of the kind ever 
exhibited before the public. The following passages 
I quote in full from The Spirit World Unmasked. 

*Tn the dark seance, flour w^as sometimes placed in 
the pinioned hands of the Davenports. On being re- 
leased from their bonds, the flour w^as found undis- 

"This was considered a convincing test ; for how 
could the brothers possibly manipulate the musical 
instruments with their hands full of flour. One day 
a wag substituted a handful of snuff for flour, and 
when the mediums were examined, the snufT had dis- 
appeared and flour taken its place. As will be under- 
stood, in the above test the Davenports emptied the 
flour from their hands into secret pockets, and at the 
proper moment took out cornucopias of flour and 
filled their hands again before securing themselves in 
the famous slip-knots. 

"Among the exposes of the Brothers Davenport, 
Hermann the conjuror, gives the following in the 
Cosmopolitan Magazine : 'The Davenports, for thirteen 
years, in Europe and America, augmented the faith 
in Spiritualism. Unfortunately for the Davenports 
they appeared at Ithaca, New York, where is situated 
Cornell University. The students having a scientific 
trend of mind, provided themselves before attending 
the performance with pyrotechnic balls containing 
phosphorus, so made as to ignite suddenly with a 
bright light. During the dark seance when the Daven- 
ports were supposed to be bound hand and foot within 


the closet and when guitars were apparently floating 
in the air, the students struck their lights, whereupon 
the spirits were found to be no other than the Daven- 
ports themselves, dodging about the stage brandish- 
ing guitars and playing tunes and waving at the same 
time tall poles surmounted by phosphorescent spook 
pictures.' " 

Tape-tying was not originated until after rope- 
tying had become quite common. Annie Eva Fay 
used a tie called "The Cotton Bandage Test/' She was 
seated on a stool which was placed against a wooden 
post, the latter being screwed tightly to the floor. 
Her wrists were bound tightly with cotton bandages, 
and the spectators were allowed to sew the knots 
thoroughly and place courtplaster over them. These 
bandages were tied tightly together behind her and 
fastened securely to the post, the knots being sealed. 
She bewildered a committee of English scientists, yet 
the secret of her tie is well known to conjurors at the 
present time. 

The reader can find a full explanation of this tie in 
Shaiv's Magical Instructor, or in the above-mentioned 
work by Mr. Evans from which I quote the following : 

"One of Annie Eva's most convincing tests is the 
accordion which plays, after it has been bound fast 
with tapes and the tapes carefully sealed at every 
note, so as to prevent its being performed on in the 
regular manner. Her method of operating, though 
simple, is decidedly ingenious. She places a small tube 
in the valve-hole of the instrument, breathes and blows 
alternately into it, and then by fingering the keys, exe- 
cutes an air with excellent effect." 

There is a celebrated medium in Kansas City who 
submits to a tie allowing the tapes sewed to the 


carpet and corn meal is placed in his palms, where 
either it or other meal will be found after the per- 
formance. The manifestations are very convincing, 
yet recently a "spirit" was "grabbed" at one of his 
seances, and it proved to be the medium. This was 
written up in a daily paper there, as among those who 
grabbed him was a reporter. 

I have an acquaintance, an ex-medium, who is quite 
expert at the tying tricks. He permits himself to be 
tied to his chair, yet he can instantly release, and re- 
place himself in the ties. It is very instructive to watch 
him do this. There is no doubt but that a clever 
artist, in the art of rope- and tape-tying, can instantly 
release himself from almost any tie, and as quickly 
replace himself. 

Such being the case, the fact that the medium was 
well tied in the Doctor's case can hardly be regarded 
as evidential. While this lady may not have done so, 
yet the probabilities are that she either escaped bodily 
from the ties, later replacing herself; or, that she se- 
cured the free use of her hands, so that she was en- 
abled to perform the necessary maneuvers. 

In case the lady escaped, she probably slipped around 
the circle handling the trumpet. She could thus drop 
the trumpet, recover it, whisper through it, etc. She 
could also make the raps with it, or with a "telescopic 
reaching rod." This latter is made of aluminum and 
when closed is but little larger than a lead pencil. 
Such appliances frequently extend six feet or more 
when fully drawn out. Being of aluminum they are 
very light. They have a hook on the end for hooking 
into the handle of the trumpet or other objects to be 

Sometimes the rod is made as a tube. The medium 


can then insert a small mouthpiece and whisper or 
speak in the end of it. The voices will appear to be 
at whatever location the farther end of the tube occu- 
pies at this time. Sometimes this tube is inserted into 
the small end of the trumpet : and in such cases the 
trumpet can go very high in the room, even to the 
distant corners, and at the same time have a voice 
in it. 

The reader will readily see that it would only be 
necessary for the medium to get the free use of her 
hands to manipulate this tube ; and that she would 
be able to produce the raps with the end of it, swing 
the book-case doors, etc. As the tube is but little 
larger than a lead pencil when closed, it would be very 
easy for her to conceal such an appliance in her cloth- 
ing, and as soon as her hands were free, proceed to 
conduct the manifestations. 

It would not be necessary to leave her chair at all. 
The aluminum trumpets are very light, and for this 
reason they can be manipulated so that the touches on 
the sitter's heads are but little more than a caress, and 
it is very easy to manipulate them. They and the 
telescopic tubes can be purchased at the mediums' 
supply depots for a nominal sum. 

The mediums who perform the most marvelous ap- 
pearing work use the telescopic tubes very frequently. 
They do not all submit to being tied but quite fre- 
quently allow a sitter to hold their hands and feet. 
This is regarded as more convincing than if the me- 
dium be trusted beyond the sitter's reach, although 
he may be securely tied. In some of my articles I 
have described these holding tests, and the little de- 
ception by which the medium gains the free use of one 
arm with perfect safety. 


In some cases the medium has a cage of iron tubing, 
or heavy wire large enough to cover his person. He 
is seated on a stool, and the cage is placed over him 
and securely screwed to the floor. Wax is then placed 
on the screw heads and sealed. The trumpet and other 
articles are placed near the cage and all of the mani- 
festations take place when the lights are put out. He 
reaches the telescopic tube through the open-work of 
the cage and manipulates the articles. 

I had an acquaintance with a medium who talked 
through a trumpet very often. She informed me that 
it requires considerable practice to talk well through a 
trumpet and let no sound escape near the mouth. It 
is an art of its own, as it were. 

In some trumpet seances the lights are not put out 
but merely lowered until quite dim. The trumpet is 
laid on the floor in front of a cabinet, and voices issue 
from it. This usually occurs at the medium's own 
home. In such cases a concealed rubber tube lies 
under a loose rug; and when the trumpet is laid on 
the floor, this tube is secretly slipped into the small 
end of it. This tube runs into the cabinet where sits 
the medium, who inserts a mouthpiece and does the 
talking. In case of the medium hearing any sudden 
movement among the spectators, she quickly draws 
the tube into the cabinet, and conceals it in a pocket 
under her clothing. 

In some cases the trumpet is laid on a chair in front 
of the cabinet and voices seem to issue from it. In this 
case there is no connection, but the medium in the cab- 
inet has a second telescopic trumpet concealed under 
her clothing. When the curtain is dropped, she secures 
this trumpet and extends it, holding it near the cur- 
tain directly behind the other one. The sounds seem 


to listeners outside to Issue from the trumpet on the 
chair. This ilhision is perfect, as the sounds have the 
tone of the trumpet, are in Hne behind the one in view, 
and the attention is directed to the trumpet on the 
chair just as a ventriloquist directs the attention of 
the spectators to his "figure." 

I am digressing some, as these last methods could 
not have been used in the case the Doctor describes ; 
but I believe the reader will pardon this digression, 
for the sake of this additional information. While I 
am dealing with the subject of trumpet seances, inde- 
pendent voices and dark seances, I shall take the 
liberty of describing some more work of this kind. 

When a medium works in his own home, it is an 
easy matter to have speaking tubes whose openings 
are masked by picture moulding or other objects. 
These lead to the confederate who can, by a system 
of switches, send the voices into the room through 
any or all of the tubes at will. Such sound appears to 
come out of the very air and is difficult to locate. The 
origin of sound is difficult to locate anyway, and in 
such cases it is much more so. 

At one time I heard a report of a case where inde- 
pendent voices followed a young girl out in the open 
air, and would on occasions converse with her. A 
certain party accompanied her to a well, and heard a 
voice speak out in the open air and address her. I do 
not know if such report were entirely true or not, as 
the opportunity to investigate the case was lost when 
I heard of it ; but the idea occurred to me that it would 
be very easy to lay a small iron pipe under ground 
from a house, and have it terminate in a well near the 
surface. Its termination could easily be masked and" 
a confederate in the house could send voices into the 


top of the well at will. To one unacquainted with the 
secret, the voice would be extremely difficult to locate. 
Of this I am certain, from some experiments I once 
conducted, wherein I sent voices through some hun- 
dreds of feet of pipe which ran through a public hitch- 
ing rack. Passers-by at the farther end would think 
themselves addressed by some one near them, and 
would look around in a very foolish manner in search 
of the speaker. We boys thought this great sport. 

By this means, voices can be made to appear on a 
lawn in the open and will seem very mysterious to a 
small party. A small half-inch pipe can be laid under 
the ground near the surface and terminate under an 
urn, the roots of a tree, or even in the grass just below 
the level of the earth. It can be kept corked to pre- 
vent moisture from entering when not in use, and if 
the grass be a trifle long and the entrance of the tube 
a trifle below the surface of the ground, it would es- 
cape discovery. Of course it should only be used in 
the evening, in a dim light, mid then used but spar- 
ingly. If two or three of these were located in differ- 
ent positions, and used sparingly, marvelous reports 
would go abroad of the mysterious voices heard in 
the open air by persons when there. After using, the 
cork should be re-inserted, a little moist earth placed 
over it, and the grass re-arranged and sprinkled. 

I have a letter from a gentleman in Oldtown, Ken- 
tucky, who reports to me a seance where in the twi- 
light he saw a trumpet move across the floor, out into 
the yard and up into the branches of the trees. I have 
the name of the medium who produced this manifesta- 
tion. I do not know the means she used, but I know 
a means by which I have caused other articles to move 
across the floor. The secret was a thread pulled by 


a concealed assistant, and which of course was invis- 
ible. If I were producing this manifestation, I should 
lay a strong black linen or silk thread on the floor, 
out of the door, on the lawn, and then up over a limb 
in a tree. From there I should lead it to a concealed 
assistant, who at the proper time should draw it in, 
I would have a soft copper-wire hook on the end of 
the thread, which I should secretly bend around the 
handle of the trumpet when laying it on the floor. 
When the trumpet should catch in the branches of the 
tree, the assistant could, by pulling on the thread, 
straighten out the wire hook, drawing it in, while the 
trumpet would drop to the ground. In case the trum- 
pet had no handle, a small hole near the rim would 
attract no notice. The wire hook could be passed 
through this hole. I have no doubt that this was the 
means employed. 

At one time I fitted up my home with a number of 
mechanical rappers under the floor in different posi- 
tions. The threads that operated them all entered the 
room through some tiny holes in the floor back of a 
couch. My wife lay on this couch, apparently resting, 
and secretly manipulating the threads. I had most 
marvelous raps which would seem to move to any 
position asked for by the spectators, and would an- 
swer questions intelligently. The effect was very 
great, although I always afterwards informed my spec- 
tators that it was not spirits. I had one set of strings 
which caused a piano to voluntarily strike chords 
when I should desire. I have seen nervous ladies 
greatly frightened by these manifestations. 

Mediums claim that spirits have a horror of light- 
waves and that certain manifestations can only occur 
in the dark. It is true that the manipulating spirit has 


a horror of the light, and that certain manifestations 
can only take place in the darkness. If any one will 
have the courage at such times, to suddenly flash a 
pocket electric light on the trumpet, it will not be 
necessary for him to be a performer in order to dis- 
cover the secret of the manifestations. There is not 
a reliable report in the country, where at any time any 
one suddenly flashed one of these lights on a trumpet 
seance, that he did not find the medium or the con- 
federates at work producing the manifestations in a 
very simple manner. It seems to me that if in any 
instance such a phenomenon were genuine, there would 
some time be a case where these exposers would find 
something not a trick. 

A lady medium from Lincoln, Nebraska, recently 
informed me, that the dark seance is rapidly losing 
prestige since the manufacture of the pocket electric 
light. She said that these were being used on the 
trumpet mediums all over the country with disastrous 
results, and that the profession would soon have to 
drift into other channels of trickery. She also told 
me of a medium who uses his chandelier to bring 
voices secretly into his room ; and that he hangs the 
trumpet on the chandelier and the voices appear to 
issue from it, while in reality they issue from a num- 
ber of tiny holes in different parts of the chandelier. 

I look at the question of spirit communion somewhat 
in this manner: We all have a spirit while we live. 
This spirit cannot perform a physical miracle. For it 
to talk, nature has found it necessary to develop vocal 
organs. Without these no living spirit can talk. To 
move objects, physical contact and force are necessary. 
Without these, no living spirit can move objects. Why 
should any disembodied spirit, (if such exist), be able 


to execute any act which it could not execute if in the 
body ; or, in other words, why should it be able to per- 
form a miracle? 

The theory of certain psychic researchers whom I 
know seems to be something like this: Spirits of the 
dead can only manifest themselves through the organ- 
ism of some person fitted for their control. Such 
organism is what they term a medium; and they are 
very doubtful about any physical manifestations be- 
ing genuine. 

As to the information which the voices gave the 
Doctor, I am not in a position to judge ; for I do not 
know what opportunity the medium may have had 
secretly to learn the history of those present. How- 
ever, many tricks are used successfully, even in this 
feature of the work. David P. Abbott. 


Mr. Bennett to The Open Court, 

To THE Editor of The Open Court : 

I am deeply interested in the articles by Mr. Abbott 
about spirit mediums, because I have been investi- 
gating in that line myself, and am now writing to ask 
you to have Mr. Abbott explain a performance that is 
done in Chicago. A man in this city went to a Mr. 
B., a trumpet and also clairvoyant medium of Chicago, 
(he has been here and is one that I have criticized), 
and in a seance his mother's spirit urged him to get her 
portrait taken, as she was anxious for him to know 
how she looked now. The medium told the man of a 
lady in Chicago that could take spirit portraits, and he 
called on her. He says he wrote on a sheet torn from 
a new tablet that he carried with him asking his mother 


if she would come and sit for her portrait. This sheet 
he folded, and with two other blank ones torn from 
the same tablet, put into an envelope and held it under 
a book on the table. He had done all this by instruc- 
tions from the lady, but she sat all the time clear across 
the room from him. She talked several minutes on 
other topics, then told him his message was ready. 
On opening the envelope the two blank sheets were 
written full, and with ink. His mother consented to 
sit. So the medium brought out a canvas about 18 by 
30 inches stretched on a fram^e, and hung this on the 
wall near the man and in front of him. Then the me- 
dium retired across the room. Soon colors began to 
develop on the canvas, and he says in just twenty 
minutes by his watch the portrait was finished, all the 
colors developing from a clean, white canvas before 
his eyes, and no other person near. When he first 
touched it the paint, or what not, was still green and 
he blurred it. So he had to leave it a few days to dry be- 
fore having it sent home. When it arrived it so pleased 
him that he sent the medium's price, $40.00. He says 
it does not resemble his mother when she died, (an 
old lady), but thinks it resembles her when she was 
about 35, and she assures him that it looks like her as 
she is now. 

I have seen the picture, and should call it an oil 
painting of a very good looking woman of about 35. 

The medium who encouraged this man had met him 
in this city, and also twice in Chicago at the medium's 
home or office, and of course he posted the artist me- 
dium by telephone or otherwise as to the man's name, 
his mother's name and other matters. I think Mr. 
Abbott has already explained how the writing is done 
in the envelope. But how do they develop what ap- 


pears to be an oil painting from a clean canves right 
before the purchaser's eyes? There is another por- 
trait in this vicinity executed by the same Chicago 
medium in the same way but I have not seen that. 
But I am told it is a fine oil painting. Now I wish 
you would have Mr. Abbott explain this portrait paint- 
ing, and expose these frauds that are being perpe- 
trated on innocent people in your big city. 

C. W. Bennett. 


Mr. Abbott to The Open Court. 

To THE Editor of The Open Court : 

Your letter enclosing one from Mr. Bennett came 
duly to hand. I think I know the name of the medium 
or mediums to whom he refers, as I have heard of 
their work from other sources. I may be mistaken 
as to this, as there are possibly others producing spirit 
portraits ; but at least I have heard of only one "firm" 
doing this style of work. 

Now I have never witnessed the production of one 
of their paintings, and to do so would be quite ex- 
pensive ; so I could hardly tell the exact means they 
use. However, I am familiar with some secrets which 
are doubtless the same, or about the same, as those 
that they employ. 

I will first give a short account of the evolution of 
the "art" of producing spirit portraits. Like all good 
tricks, the secrets have been developed by a process 
of experiment and gradual evolution. 

At the beginning when mediums were able secretly 
to secure pictures of the departed friends of some of 
their subjects, they would first secretly prepare the 
pictures and then produce them at a seance with very 


Striking effect. At this time a cabinet was used in the 
production of the pictures. The medium would allow 
the cabinet to be very thoroughly examined; and, if 
a lady, would also allow a committee of ladies to 
examine her clothing. Her attendant would then hand 
her a blank canvas fastened onto a frame. 

The medium would now exhibit this canvas to each 
spectator at close range, showing both sides of it, and 
would remind the audience that there were no appli- 
ances in the cabinet or in her clothing. She would 
then retire to the cabinet for a few moments, after 
which she would come forth with the canvas still on 
its frame, which could have been and frequently was 
marked ; but on this canvas was now a portrait of the 
"dear one" of one of the spectators. This portrait was 
yet hardly dry. 

It is needless to say that this always made a great 
impression with ardent believers. The secret was very 
simple. The painting was first prepared on canvas. 
This canvas was then placed over a clean canvas, and 
the two were tacked to a frame. The clean canvas 
underneath kept the paint from showing through, 
and from behind this appeared as an unpainted canvas. 
Next, the medium tacked a clean canvas over the 
picture and did it so neatly that no one could detect 
the deception. This was the canvas that she exhibited 
to the spectators. 

Now, on entering the cabinet, she simply pulled off 
the top canvas, removed the few tacks that held it, 
and secreted the same in a pocket under her dress. 
As she had already had her clothing examined, she 
need not submit to a second examination afterwards. 
Now, under her clothing, around her waist, was a 
belt next to her skin, this had a tiny pocket in it con- 


taining a small phial of poppy oil. This escaped de- 
tection on the examination, for the reason that the 
medium appeared rather "modest" and the committee 
did not make too close an examination of her under- 
clothing. Now, after removing the top canvas she 
secured the poppy oil and rubbed it over the painting. 
Then, concealing the phial, she came forth from the 
cabinet v^ith the painting still damp. 

Some mediums merely covered the painting with a 
solution of zinc white and water. This effectually 
concealed the picture, if only exhibited from a short 
distance. This could be removed by the judicious 
use of a damp sponge. 

After this certain mediums invented a way to put 
portraits on a slate, and then by adroit substitution, 
to introduce this prepared slate into a stack of exam- 
ined ones; they could thus sometimes get for a sitter 
a portrait of a departed relative instead of a message, 
or they could produce both. Some mediums use a 
very clever system of substitution of canvases, and 
I have heard somewhere of a mechanical easel de- 
signed especially for substituting them. 

Now there was quite a demand for spirit portraits 
that the subjects could see appear on the canvas be- 
fore their very eyes. Believers are never satisfied 
and are continually looking for stronger and stronger 
tests. The mediums are thus ever forced along the 
road of improvement in their methods. 

Mediums now began experimenting with chemicals, 
to discover those that could be put on a canvas and 
that would remain invisible until developed. A num- 
ber of chemicals were found ; and the pictures formed 
did not resemble those made with oil paints, for they 


were really mere chemical stains. They thus appeared 
to be more ''spiritual." 

I will give the names of a few chemicals that have 
been used in this manner. If a canvas of unbleached 
muslin have a portrait painted on it with the solutions 
given below, it will appear to be unprepared, as the 
chemicals will be invisible when dry. If sprayed with 
a weak solution of tincture of iron, the picture grad- 
ually appears. Sulphocyanide of potassium is used 
for red, ferrocyanide of potassium for blue, and tan- 
nin for black. 

If preferred the following solutions may be used: 
Sulphate of iron for blue, nitrate of bismuth for yel- 
low, and sulphate of copper for brown. In this case 
spray with a solution of prussiate of potash. 

Originally, when these were used, a canvas was first 
exhibited and shown to be apparently free from prepa- 
ration. This canvas was then dampened and placed 
on an easel in front of a cabinet. A light was placed 
at such an angle back of the canvas as to enable the 
spectators to see through it. The other lights were 
then lowered, and the music started, while the me- 
dium entered the cabinet back of the canvas. Then 
through a tiny hole ii;i the cabinet curtain, the medium, 
from behind, using an atomizer, secretly sprayed the 
canvas with the developing solution. The portrait 
gradually made its appearance before the spectator's 
eyes. The atomizer had to be kept screwed up tight, 
and the music covered the slight noise which it made. 

A case is reported wherein a medium, after sitting 
for a time without results, proposed to hurry up the 
appearance of the portrait by making magnetic passes 
over the canvas. This he did ; and at the same time 



he secretly sprayed the canvas from an atomizer con- 
cealed in his sleeve. 

Before giving my ideas of the methods employed by 
the Chicago mediums, I will quote an extract from a 
letter I have received from a gentleman in Tacoma, 
Washington. This gentleman has an uncle who ob- 
tained a portrait of his little girl who is dead. The 
passage reads as follows: "My uncle is certain that 
there was no fraud used in the production of the large 
wall portrait which he secured of his little girl, as he 
and other members of his family saw the picture grad- 
ually appear on the canvas, which was placed in a 
window. There was no possible chance of fraud, he 
avers. He has shown this picture, which is quite 
artistic, to many prominent persons, and before some 
local literary bodies. The portrait is a reproduction 
of a cabinet-size photograph which he had with him 
at the time, but to further mystify him there are some 
slight changes in the picture. Although he is very 
intelligent, he says that this picture was never made 
by mortal hands, or with paint and brush." 

It is to be regretted that this description is so meagre 
of details. I should like to have known what oppor- 
tunity there might have been for secretly photograph- 
ing his picture or copying it; whether he had more 
than the one sitting or not; if the photograph were 
shown to the medium or left the sitter's hands at all ; 
how soon after his arrival with the photograph he re- 
ceived the portrait; whether the portrait appears to 
be in oil paints, or is merely chemical stains, etc. It 
is, however, doubtful if one who was hot familiar with 
the importance of these points would have noticed 
these things at all, to say nothing of remembering 
such apparently insignificant details. 


In some of the advertising matter of the mediums 
to whom I refer, I have seen some statements the sub- 
stance of which follows : They do not care to "pander 
to the caprice of carping skeptics" ; they desire to give 
their services to honest investigators, and prefer to 
have an appointment made in advance either by tele- 
phone or otherwise when a sitting is desired ; they de- 
sire to know, also, beforehand, what is the nature of 
the sitting required of them. All of this is perfectly 
proper for the convenience of the parties, but the 
latter part of it is certainly suggestive of preparation. 

They also state that, originally, some dozen years 
ago, when they began developing this phase of me- 
diumship, they had to produce the portraits in a closed 
cabinet, or in a dark box ; but that of late they have be- 
come so highly developed that the portraits are pro- 
duced in the daylight ; that now the subj ect selects the 
canvas and the same is placed in the window with the 
top leaning against the window sash ; the blind is then 
drawn down to the canvas top, and the draperies are 
arranged so as to let in no light except through the 
canvas ; all other light is excluded from the room. 
Now, it is quite evident that the canvas might be 
sprayed from a concealed mechanism in the window 
casing. If so, the sitter could have no idea of what is 
employed, for under such conditions one could see 
through the canvas but faintly. 

Let us suppose that in the window casing, concealed 
by the wood, are some tubes connected with a pressure 
tank of the developing chemical. Let us suppose that 
a number of tiny nipples are located along these tubes 
and almost penetrate the wood of the casing ; that then 
there are some pin-holes in the wood over each nipple ; 
that each nipple is set at the proper angle to spray the 


canvas at the proper places. Now when a concealed 
confederate turns on the pressure, it is evident that 
the picture will gradually appear. Other mechanisms 
may be used. The lower part of the window casing, 
known as the sill, may have a revolving trap that re- 
volves behind the canvas, bringing up into position a 
spraying mechanism ; or more probably, that is merely 
pushed up out of the way, so as to allow the tiny nipples 
which are trained on the canvas like miniature guns, 
to begin operating. 

It is also possible that the mediums dampen the can- 
vas before the experiment, with a sponge saturated 
with the developer, under the pretext of rendering it 
transparent, or of causing the "spirit paints" to ad- 
here. In such case a developer might be used that 
would act very slowly, and then no spraying mechan- 
ism would be required. 

It would be easy for the artist to prepare several 
canvases all alike before the sitting, so as to give the 
sitter free choice of canvases. The prices charged, 
viz., forty dollars, would justify the expense. 

Naturally, mediums following this work as a pro- 
fession and doing nothing else, would do much ex- 
perimenting, and would greatly perfect their methods. 
They would doubtless learn to use many chemicals, and 
could thus produce the beautifu' tints in which the 
pictures are now made. It is even possible that no 
spraying mechanism is used at present, but that they 
have discovered chemicals which develop under the 
daylight which enters at the zvindozv. The last would 
be the ideal method. To learn just what chemicals 
they use, an analysis of the painted canvas would be 

Now, in the aforesaid advertising matter, I find a 


Statement the substance of which is this : Spirits con- 
tinue to develop on the ''other side," therefore the 
portraits do not always look as the persons did in 
life ; that when a perfect likeness is desired, it is well 
to bring a photograph for the sitter to look at during 
the sitting, and upon which to concentrate his psy- 
chic powers. This is to establish proper conditions 
so as to enable the "spirit artist" to make a good repro- 

Now, suppose that when the sitter comes with a 
photograph, while he is holding it and looking at 
it, a secret "snap-shot" of it be taken; or that the 
artist (mortal) view it through a small telescope from 
some concealed position. It is evident that after a 
short time the canvases could be brought in for the 
sitter to select one, and the sitting could begin. It 
might be necessary to make a failure at first, and make 
a second trial for a portrait later, as such expedients 
are frequently resorted to in mediumistic work. 

In case no photograph is brought, then the mediums 
doubtless adroitly get a good description of the de- 
parted, and the portrait looks "as the spirit does now 
in spirit life" ; so that there is but a very faint resem- 
blance. I know a medium who told me that he was 
personally acquainted with the "fine artist" who pre- 
pares these canvases. He told me the artist's name 
and said that he had talked with him frequently. The 
artist is of national fame, and could not afford to have 
his name known in connection with this work. Un- 
fortunately, I neglected to write down the name, and 
have forgotten it. 

In the aforesaid advertising matter, I saw some 
statement about leaving the portrait to be completed 
after the sitting. It will also be noticed in Mr. Ben- 


nett's letter, that the portrait to which he refers was 
"green" or damp, and was left to dry and be called for 
later. How easy it would be, in such case for the 
artist to copy the picture in oil on another canvas, or 
even to go over the original canvas with a coat of oil 
paints. This may be done in some instances. It will 
be noticed that Mr. Bennett says the canvas was hung 
against the wall. A spraying mechanism could have 
been concealed in the wall as easily as in the window 
casing; or there might even be a sliding panel in the 
wall. In the case Mr. Bennett mentions, the fact that • 
the coloring material was yet ''green," would indicate 
the use of a spraying chemical. 

The reader may rest assured that the coloring matter 
on the portraits was not created by any ''spirit" espe- 
cially for the occasion, but that it was in existence be- 
fore the sitting, that it was applied to the canvas, not 
by a spirit, but by secret means, which are very simple 
and commonplace when understood. If one will but 
view such things without superstition, it will be much 
easier to realize that they are simply clever trickery. 

David P. Abbott. 

Omaha^ Neb. 

Mr. Bennett to Mr. Abbott. 
Dear Sir: 

After writing to you the first time I heard of two 
other spirit pictures in this vicinity, and the weather 
moderating I have been able to go and see them. I 
tried to learn all the points you requested me to notice, 
and I am frank to say that, with these two there are 
several features your explanation to The Open Court 
will not explain. The mediums claim they do not 
know what the paint is, but they say a wet sponge 


will wipe it all ofif, leaving the canvas white. If that 
is so( ?) of course it cannot be oil. It will be tedious 
for me to tell you all the details, but that is the only 
way I can make it plain to you. 

The picture I had seen when I first wrote you was 
owned by a Mr. M. in this city ; a portrait of his 
mother, not as he knew her but as she looks now, and 
that left a margin, as did most of the other things, 
so that your ''reply" would be sufficient. But now Mr. 
M. has a picture of a daughter that died at birth. It is 
not only a beautiful work of art, as I judge, but it is 
angelic in form and features. But the picture looks 
like a girl of fourteen, while the child was born little 
less than nine years ago. The mother sees this error, 
but says spirits develop faster. (?) 

The child had come to M. in several sittings, I am 
not sure if with other mediums or not, (he and his 
wife and little son have all developed as rapping, 
writing and planchett mediums within the past year), 
but think it did. It told them they could get its pic- 
ture. So he went to Chicago again this winter, taking 
a well-known business man w4th him. At the hotel 
M. took four leaves from a common note-sized tablet 
that lay on the office table, folded them and put them 
in an envelope with hotel card on the top corner, sealed 
it, put a one cent stamp over the seal, and then ran a 
pin through the corner so as to mark the sheets. I 
will say here that two of the sheets have no pinhole, 
and M. says he presumes he did not fold them exactly 
even, and the hole was made very near the corner 
edges and so missed two. He put the envelope in his 
pocket and the two men went to the mediums where, 
by their directions, he put the envelope on a slate that 
lay on the table, then put another slate over it, and held 


them together about ten minutes, the mediums not being 
near, and conversing on other topics in the mean time. 
Then one told him his message was ready. He took 
the envelope and put it in his pocket, without opening, 
though the mediums protested, wanting to know them- 
selves what was in it. But he said he was not going 
to open it until he got home, as his wife was skeptical, 
and if there was anything in it worth while he wanted 
her to see it. 

M. then told them he wanted a picture of his dead 
daughter taken by the side of his living son, now 
about twelve years old. They told him they could not 
include the boy without having his photo or having 
him present ; but the photo need not be shown but kept 
in his pocket — only so it was in the room. So they 
agreed on a less price for that picture, and later he is 
going with his son to have both painted together at a 
reduced rate. Now mark the frailties of human testi- 
mony: M. says his friend selected at random the can- 
vas from a large pile lying in a corner of an adjoining 
room, all stretched on frames of different sizes, each 
person selecting the size he wants to pay for ; and that 
his friend put the canvas on a window sill, and then 
they both sat down, and in ten minutes the picture 
was completed, the mediums not being near them. 
His friend tells me (separately) that M. selected the 
canvas himself and put it in the window. He did not 
say anything about the mediums, but when I asked 
him if they did not sit on each side of the picture, he 
at first said, "No," and then he said, "Perhaps they 
did!" Now in the other picture to be described later 
they sat on each side of the canvas, each holding it 
by one side, and the window shade was pulled down 
to the top of the canvas, "so as not to blind the eyes 


of the observers." And this is the way they picture it 
out in their catalogue which illustrates and explains 
their methods and terms. 

When M. told me about his mother's picture he said 
they hung it on the wall, and that caused you to ask 
me several questions. But now M. tells me they put 
it in the window, and they sat one on each side hold- 
ing it. See how he varies. 

In the former case they kept the picture a few days 
to dry, and that gave you an idea that they could re- 
paint it. But in this case they immediately delivered 
it to M. and he brought it home. He had requested 
that a flower be included in the hair of the girl, and 
that her name that has been given her since she passed 
over, be on the picture. Neither were on it and he 
complained. They told him it would be all right when 
he got home ; and sure enough when he unwrapped it 
at home two white spots were in the hair, (golden locks 
hanging in curls, the flower being just over the right 
forehead), and about two days afterwards as the 
mother was looking at it the name gradually devel- 
oped, in capitals about a quarter inch tall, Jesemine. 
Note the spelling. When he arrived, M. was surprised 
to find his son lying on a couch, not well enough to 
go to school. He gave the envelope to the boy to 
open, and all the four sheets were written full on one 
side with ink. (I forgot to say that they put a small 
tin cover on top of the top slate with a little ink in it.) 
The first sheet was signed ''J^^imine." (Two i's.) 
Among other things she said, "Do not worry about 
Ira's sickness, (the boy's name) he will have a short 
run of fever, but get well soon if you take good care 
of him." Now when M. left home the boy was well, 
and he did not know he was sick until his return — 


hence he says the mediums could not have learned it 
from him by mind-reading. And he had not told them 
the boy's name. Next followed a longer letter from one 
signed "Fulton," who told him several things about 
his business and patents. M. has invented a drying 
kiln, and made several patented improvements, and 
not having sufficient money to do it all and manu- 
facture, took in some partners in Cleveland, where it 
is manufactured. He is having some trouble with 
these partners and this Fulton gave advice about that. 
He says this Fulton (he believes it to be the steamboat 
man) has told him all he knew about his invention 
from first to all the improvements. He says he has 
never told the mediums about his business nor about 
this Fulton. A third letter was from his mother, but 
signed "Per E. D. G." as all her letters are, but he 
does not know himself who E. D. G. is. They say 
the girl has taken the name of the flower, Jasmine, but 
khe mother noticed that it was spelled differently in 
the letter from the picture, and neither right if meant 
for that flower. There are only two spires of the 
flower in the picture, just two white leaflets pointing 
outwards from each other. But the picture is very 
handsome, and an ornament to the room, even though 
fictitious. The difficulties in my mind in this case 
that you do not explain are that the canvas is selected 
at random, so they could not prepare it in advance; 
they delivered it at once, so they did not have a chance 
to paint it afterwards ; and the things told in the letter 
about the boy's sickness, etc., which M. says he kept 
in his pocket all the time. 

The other case is a Mrs. B., whose son, sixteen years 
old, died last April from measles, followed by pneu- 
monia. She is a Baptist and had no belief in spirits. 


but was so grieved about her loss that some friends 
advised her to consult a medium, which she did. 
Among them was the one from Chicago, that I men- 
tioned to you before, and who I believe is a "runner" 
for the artist mediums. Some one advised her to go 
and get his picture and in one sitting the boy told her 
he would go with her so she could get an exact like- 
ness. She arrived in Chicago on Saturday and told 
them what she had come for. They told her there 
were so many ahead of her that if she did not have ob- 
jections to come next day, Sunday. She consented, 
and then they suggested that she ask for a letter from 
the hoy, and she tore two leaves from a blank tablet 
they had, and they gave her an envelope in which she 
placed them, and then she placed them between the 
two slates, and they had her put two large rubber 
bands around them, one each way. She asked why 
they did that, and they replied so that if she were a 
skeptic she could see that they did not do the work. On 
Sunday she went as agreed, but they were still having 
more that were ahead of her (she says), and after 
visiting some time she left. She assures me that she 
did not tell them anything about her boy, his name, 
description, etc., at any of these interviews. On Mon- 
day she went and they not only got the picture but 
also gave her another long letter, (I think six note 
sheets written on one side) the paper being taken from 
a tablet as before, and put into an envelope, sealed, 
put between two slates, etc., as before. I have seen 
both letters. The penmanship in each is the same, 
and very similar to that in M.'s letter signed "Fulton." 
In these letters he says, among other things, "Do not 
mourn because I did not see sister before I died. I 
immediately went and saw her after I passed out of 


the body. And I am near you all and see you every 
day. I am also pursuing my studies just the same 
as when in school, only it is not so hard now for me 
to learn my lessons." Now, just before he died he 
asked to see his sister who was also dangerously sick 
in another room, but the doctor forbade their carrying 
her to him, and he died without seeing her. How did 
the mediums know of this incident? Again he says, 
"Goldie is past suffering now. She is here with me 
all the time ; we are soul-mates now and very happy 
together." Now Goldie was a little girl sweetheart of 
his when the family lived in another state some years 
before. The day before the boy died the girl got 
burned, and after much suffering died in June ; the 
boy died in April. The mother assures me that not 
even any of the neighbors knew of this girl friend, 
nor of her tragic death — much less could these me- 
diums have known it. Again, *'Do not worry over 
that money. Use it for something that will be useful 
to you, and remember it as a present from me." Now, 
for several days before his sickness he left school to 
work for a neighboring farmer, and the mother thinks 
that work helped to cause his death. So she has kept 
the money he earned in his pocket book just as he left 
it. She says none of the neighbors knew she was 
keeping it, much less the mediums. These are the 
most peculiar features of these letters. 

When the picture was finished she told them she was 
sorry that he did not write his name on it, and im- 
mediately the name "Harry" appeared on his coat 
sleeve. Then she was sorry that she did not ask that 
some pin or jewel be put on his neck-tie, and imme- 
diately a little yellow crescent developed in the knot 
of his tie. She says the tie, collar and clothing are just 


like what he wore when in best dress. She tells me 
that the picture is a good likeness of her boy, and that 
all the neighbors think so too. She carried to Chicago 
a photo of this boy with his sister and brother, a 
group of three, Harry being the oldest, but all taken 
when he was twelve ; but she did not take that photo 
from her pocket, she says. I noticed that in that on 
the photo Harry had his hair parted on the left side, 
while in the spirit picture it is parted in the middle. 
His mother said that for the last four years he had 
practiced parting it in the middle. So the mediums 
did not imitate the photo she had with her, whether 
they saw it or not. Now ''Harry" was the name that 
developed on the picture and it was the name signed 
on both the letters written before the picture was 
made. She is positive she did not tell his name. 

I will not longer weary you, but do not see how I 
could describe what I have seen much briefer. To be 
more explicit in replying to your questions : The can- 
vas is selected by the applicant, and so it does not 
seem apparent how they can be prepared in advance 
for each applicant, as in these cases one was for a 
child that died at birth, and the other a boy at sixteen. 
If the canvases were prepared with chemicals before- 
hand, the applicant might select one that was pre- 
pared for an old person, etc. The canvas is set in a 
window, the mediums sitting on each side, each hold- 
ing to one side of it. The window shade is turned 
down to the top of the canvas. The canvases are not 
dampened before the sitting. How do these mediums 
find out names and conditions so as to make them 
appear in letters and on pictures, and tell such things 
as about the sweetheart Goldie? 

These people here tell me that scientists and chem- 


ists have tested those pictures, and analyzed the paints, 
and been unable to find what they are. The mediums 
of course tell them this ; — they do not know it from 
chemists themselves. The mediums say they do not 
know what the paints are themselves. It is done by 
the spirits, of course, and how should they know what 
material the spirits use( ?) ! 

I really hope you will succeed in exposing this fea- 
ture of spiritism, and that I shall be able to give the 
results to my readers not far in the future. If I can 
in any way be of farther aid to you command me. 
Yours for truth, 


* * * 

In a subsequent letter, in referring to a trumpet me- 
dium, Mr. Bennett says : 

*T want to call your attention to the fact that it was 
the same B. of Chicago that I had mentioned as the 
one I believed was a "runner" for the portrait me- 
diums. This helps to confirm my suspicions. This 
man has been here several times since that time M. 
met him, and had ample opportunities to get all the 
information he needed about M. to enable the mediums 
to make his two pictures. It was B. also that first 
suggested (by spirit talk, of course) to that woman to 
get a picture of her boy." 

Second Letter from Mr. Abbott. 

To THE Editor of The Open Court : 

I am in receipt of this second letter from Mr. Ben- 
net, and I can but say that it only confirms me more 
strongly in my opinion that my explanation is the 
correct one. This letter introduces some new features 
to be explained. One is the slate and billet test. An- 


Other is the means by which the mediums secured the 
secret information. These I will treat separately. 

Now first in regard to the portraits. I am now quite 
certain that a spraying mechanism is used and that it 
is concealed in the window casing. Believers will ac- 
knowledge that the coloring matter is applied while 
the canvas is in the window. I agree with them. The 
difference is this, the believers think that it is created 
for the especial purpose and applied by an invisible, 
immaterial, spirit artist, who devotes most of his time 
to the business so as to enable some mediums to make 
a living, and also to convince more strongly than ever 
good believers. I think the coloring matter is manu- 
factured by mortal man, and that a portion of it is 
applied to the canvas in an invisible spray while in the 
window. I think that part of it is applied beforehand 
by a mortal artist in secret, and that it is invisible until 

The portraits furnished Mr. M., who did not have 
pictures to be reproduced, do not resemble the spirits 
when in life. These canvases could be selected from 
the stock canvases, which are always on hand ready 
prepared. He would not have to wait for his sitting. 
The canvases from which he selected need not all have 
the same picture on them. Each one of the stock 
from which he selected could have on it an invisible 
portrait of a girl of about the right age, and it would 
make little difference which one he should select; for 
he could not tell, anyway, how his daughter would 
look when nine years old. Doubtless, the stock can- 
vases contain portraits of girls of varying age, and the 
confederate in placing a number of them in the ad- 
joining room, would naturally use some bearing por- 
traits of girls of not quite the right age. This evi- 


dently took place, and the gentleman happened to 
choose one of a girl of about fourteen years of age. 
This made little difference, for the credulity of believ- 
ers always supplies a ready explanation for such var- 
iations. The same explanation will apply to the gentle- 
man's selection of a canvas for the portrait of his 

In the lady's case, the portrait must resemble a boy 
who recently died, and must resemble him nearly 
enough to be recognized. In this case a picture must 
be taken to the medium's house with the sitter. Now 
notice that this lady is not given a sitting until her 
third visit. I am quite sure that the "special canvases" 
had to be prepared for her, and that the artist had not 
completed them when she made her second visit. Also 
notice, that when the portrait for the lady was finished, 
she expressed regret that her son's name was not on 
the picture; after which it appeared. Then she re- 
gretted that there was no pin in his tie, whereupon one 
immediately appeared. Notice also that in the case of 
the gentleman, he had requested that a flower appear 
in the hair of the girl, and that her name appear on 
the picture. He was disappointed that they were not 
there, and they also subsequently made their appear- 
ance. Thus, in each case these sitters were given 
special "after effects" in response to their spoken 

How very obliging this spirit artist is! How very 
convincing is his work ! Is it not strange that he will 
not permit a subject to bring his own canvas? Does 
not this similarity in the mode of procedure in each 
case tell a story to the rational reader? Did any of 
m}^ readers ever see the same sleight-of-hand trick 
performed over a few times, and note the absolute simi- 


larity in the mode of operation? Is it not a fact, in 
the language of the profession, that ''this is in the 
game"? It is just such Httle improvements to a trick 
performed by a medium that, in the language of the 
profession, "makes the work strong." For myself, I 
am quite sure that these special effects were prepared 
on the canvases in advance, with a more slowly acting 
chemical ; that by suggestion in the conversation, the 
mediums adroitly caused their subjects 10 request these 
little after effects. In performing tricks myself I have 
frequently resorted to just such expedients, and have 
thus sometimes made my work appear almost super- 

In the case of the gentleman, he requested these ef- 
fects in advance before the sitting. His canvas was a 
stock picture, but the assistant in the adjoining room 
quickly applied the special effects to the canvas with 
the slow chemical. On reaching home the flower was 
found to have developed, but later the wife of the sitter 
saw the name appear before her. Possibly it was vis- 
ible as soon as the flower was, but that she overlooked 
its location. Then when she did discover it, the psy- 
chological effect was as though it had suddenly de- 
veloped before her eyes. 

In the case of the lady, I think the conversation was 
so manipulated as to cause her to express her desire, 
a short time before the chemicals had time to develop. 
I am quite sure that two persons from the same town 
would not each, independently, if uninfluenced by sug- 
gestion, have asked for special after effects of such 
similarity to appear on the portraits. This feature is 
evidently considered pretty ''strong" by these mediums 
and is "worked in" very frequently. 

It will be noticed that the gentleman selected a can- 


vas and got his picture very readily ; but that when he 
requested his Hving son's portrait to be made on the 
same canvas, this could not be done without a second 
sitting, and the presence of the boy or his photograph. 
Next in regard to the means by which the mediums 
secured the secret information. When high grade 
mediums do a big business, it is very common for them 
to employ a "traveling person" as I have stated else- 
where. Is it not natural to. suppose that these mediums 
do this, and that the medium B., who solicits (or has 
his spirit voices solicit) trade for them, receives part 
of the proceeds? Would this not partly explain the 
high prices charged? Honest spiritualists will tell 
most any one, that mediums as a class always greatly 
depreciate the work of other mediums, and are con- 
tinually crying "fraud" against them. Many believers 
have expressed their regret to me of this frailty in the 
character of this class of persons. It is very unusual 
for a medium to advise a sitter to visit and spend 
money with another medium. To me it is as plain as 
day. The medium B. had been in the home city of 
these sitters many times. All believers, and those who 
were on the way to become believers, evidently had 
sittings. One of this medium's voices advised this 
lady to get this portrait. This proves that the lady 
discussed the matter either with this medium or his 
voices. Evidently, this lady in her conversation and 
questions (written or otherwise), revealed to these 
spirit voices or this medium, all of the secrets (in- 
cluding the mam er in which her son had lately worn 
his hair, etc.), which afterwards were used to such 
telling advantage. She has no doubt forgotten most 
of her conversations with this medium, and could not 
relate one thing ir/ ten that passed between them. But 


it is a medium's business to write down and remember 
these things. It is also a very prevalent custom for 
mediums to exchange information thus secured. 

I feel sure that this medium secured the lady's son's 
photograph, either with her consent for the purpose 
of "magnetizing it," or of getting en rapport with her 
son ; or else that he secured it at some gallery secretly, 
and that he copied it with a kodak. How frequently 
do subjects take some memento as a lock of hair or 
a photograph of the dear one to a medium! How 
easily can a medium manage to have this done long 
before his voices ever advise a spirit portrait! 

There can be no doubt that he furnished the lady 
mediums all of the vital information, names, etc., 
which these mediums afterwards used to such telling 
advantage. The reader need not doubt the fact that 
mediums obtain a complete knowledge of the little 
secrets, connected with the dead of their sitters. These 
things prey on the minds of those who are in grief, 
and are revealed to mediums in one way or another in 
private sittings. 

I wish my readers could see a collection of written 
and signed questions which is in my possession. These 
were written by many persons who thought that they 
saw them burned before their eyes. They reveal all 
of the innermost secrets of their writers. Each writer 
believed that the medium never saw his writing, and 
in some instances report that he never touched the 
cards on which it was. If another medium were to 
appear and reveal this same information to these per- 
sons, they would undoubtedly certify that no one at 
all knew of these secrets. These were presented to 
me by a medium of my acquaintance, who is quite 
friendly with me. 


As to the sickness of the boy, (whose name was 
probably furnished by B.), I should think this a mere 
prediction which would apply to any growing child; 
that, had the boy not been sick on the father's arrival, 
like most children he would at some later time have 
had an unimportant sickness ; and that in such a case 
this prediction would have been applied by the gentle- 
man to the event. On arriving home the boy happened 
to be sick, which accidentally made an immediate ful- 
filment of the prediction. 

And now in regard to the slate test. I have else- 
where dealt very completely with these tests. I will 
not take up space here in doing so. In an article of 
mine appearing in the Journal of the Society for Psy- 
chical Research I explain a test where, from some 
slates, possession is secretly obtained of a sealed en- 
velope. This could be opened with steam, and the 
writing done, after which the envelope could be again 
sealed. In Suggestion, of September, 1901, there is an 
exposure of this same trick, or nearly the same trick, 
as that which these mediums performed. 

It is quite evident that these sitters received informa- 
tion or instructions from some source in advance, 
which caused them to prepare the sealed envelopes. 
In the gentleman's case he prepared his at the hotel. 
Now the lady did not come with one prepared, so the 
mediums had her prepare a sealed envelope in exactly 
the same manner. What a strange coincidence ! This 
shows that this is a stock trick of theirs and is per- 
formed for most subjects. The mode of operation is 
exactly the same in each case. This fact alone shows 
that it is a trick. 

It will be noted that one letter was signed, "per E. 
D. G." The recipient does not know any one whom 


these initials would indicate. Had the mediums' notes 
of information been more complete, or had they acci- 
dentally hit upon other initials, this might have been 
cited as a most convincing test. 

I will not take up further space with my explana- 
tions; but I simply assure my readers that if any of 
them will take their own canvas with them, and never 
Jet it out of their hands or sight, they will get no pic- 

David P. Abbott. 

Omaha, Nebraska. 



I WILL add to this work a description of a splendid 
billet test which I have witnessed since the appear- 
ance of the first edition. The spectators are given 
small white cards on which to write their questions 
and names. They are also given envelopes in which 
to seal the cards after first folding them. These en- 
velopes have been previously numbered by the me- 

After the questions are prepared, the medium collects 
them in a velvet bag which is fastened on the end of 
a stick. He carries this article by the stick or handle, 
and the spectators drop their sealed envelopes into the 
bag. When all are collected, he holds the bag aloft 
so all can see that there is no exchange, and then pro- 
ceeds to empty the billets upon his center table. The 
billets lie there in full view while the performer goes 
on with some other matter for a time. 

Next the performer takes a pair of double or hinged 
slates, and, going to the table, opens them and places 
the sealed envelopes between them. He now gives 
these slates to any spectator to hold, and he takes a 
seat facing the spectators. 

Next he requests the spectator holding the slates 
to take one envelope at a time from them, to read its 
number and to give it back unopened to its writer. 


Upon his doing this the medium proceeds to answer the 
subject's questions in detail, to tell his name, etc., as 
in the other various billet tests that I have described. 
After each test is given the writer is requested to 
open his envelope and to see that his folded card is 
still within it undisturbed. 

I find this test very effective when properly "worked 
up," and fully equal to the billet work of Chicago's 
best mediums. First, the velvet bag contains a de- 
ception and is about the same as the one described on 
page 148 of this volume, with the exception that it 
is larger. The stick or handle is a hollow tin tube 
painted black. On the end of this tube is soldered 
one side of a circle of stiff w^ire eight or ten inches 
in diameter. From this wire circle is suspended the 
open velvet bag some twelve inches deep and properly 
ornamented. There is a secret velvet partition in the 
bag which is sewed at the top to a half circle of wire, 
which has a straight projection or piston running up 
through the handle. This piston is fastened at the 
handle end to a short piece of tin tubing which 
matches the handle. By turning this short tube, the 
piston is turned, moving the cloth partition from side 
to side in the bag. The one I use has a window-curtain 
roller-spring within it, which causes the partition to 
"switch" when I release my grip on it. In one side 
are secretly placed "dummy" envelopes. 

Now after the performer gathers up the original 
numbered envelopes, he allows the piston to revolve. 
He then apparently empties the bag on his center table. 
It is the dummy envelopes that fall out, and the 
originals are secretly retained in the bag in its other 
compartment. The performer now carelessly tosses 
the bag into the wings, or adjoining room, where is 


his assistant. I will mention that the conjuring depots 
supply these bags minus the springs in rather smaller 
sizes. I think if the performer requests it, that they 
would make this kind for him. However, I made my 
own. A good medium recently told me that this bag 
was his greatest help. 

Now, while the performer continues some other 
matter, and while the sealed envelopes lie apparently 
untouched on his center table, the assistant opens, 
reads, copies, and again seals in previously numbered 
envelopes, the various questions and names. The 
envelopes, after being again sealed, are placed between 
a pair of large double, or hinged slates. When the 
performer is ready to proceed with the tests, he steps 
to his adjoining room or the wings, and brings out 
these slates. 

He then steps to his center table and gathers up 
the envelopes, like a pack of cards, and lays them on 
the center of his table. He now takes up the hinged 
slate (still closed) zvith its hinge facing the spectators, 
and lays it flat on the stack of dummy envelopes, and 
presses downwards as if trying to cover them up. This 
he can not do as the package is too thick. He there- 
fore takes tip the envelopes with one hand and while 
doing so lays the slates flat on the table with the 
hinged edge still facing the spectators. Next he lifts 
the rear edge of the upper slate, opening it up towards 
the spectators, and with his other hand from behind 
apparently inserts the envelopes between the slates, 
immediately lowering the upper slate and thus closing 
them. He then gives these slates to a spectator to 

Now he does not place the dummies between the 
slates, as he apears to do. In fact, he merely slips 


them under both slates and they fall into an opening 
in the table. The originals are already in the slates 
as before stated. 

I will give a brief description of this table. It is a 
light center table covered with black velvet, and this 
extends over the sides some eight inches, forming a 
drape. A fancy design is laid off on the table top, 
by tacking on silver braid so as to form figures such 
as squares, circles, etc. This appears to be for the 
purpose of ornamentation. However, it conceals the 
trick. Just back of the center of the table one square 
is really a hole in the table, into which is sewed a 
black velvet pocket six inches deep. This pocket is 
absolutely invisible if its margin be bordered with 
bright silver braid, and if bright lights be behind the 
table and above it. A spectator can stand within two 
feet of this table and can only discover the pocket by 
feeling. It is absolutely invisible. This is called a 
"Black Art Table." Into this opening the dummy en- 
velopes fall when shoved under the slates. The slates 
being placed well back over the opening, the enve- 
lopes have to be shoved forward horizontally into it, 
and the motion is deceptive, as the envelopes appear 
from the front to be going into the slates. This is 
surely a most excellent "switch," as is also that of 
the "Velvet Changing Bag." 

The performer now seats himself and gives the 
tests, while the spectator returns to each writer his 
unopened ( ?) envelope. How does the medium get 
the questions? It is simplicity itself. He has a small 
book made of white celluloid. The leaves are about 
eight in number, and are about half the size of play- 
ing cards. The leaves are fastened together by punch- 
ing two holes on one side of each leaf, and then putting 


in these holes a small ring. This book can be held in 
the palm ; and after reading each leaf, it is allowed to 
fall open in the palm whereupon the question on its 
other side can be read. 

The assistant copies the questions on these leaves 
and numbers them the same as the envelopes. When 
the performer gets the double slates, he places this 
book in his pocket with his handkerchief. When he 
gives the tests, he takes out the handkerchief and con- 
ceals the book secretly in his palm. The hands hold 
the handkerchief and he frequently mops his brow 
during the "trying ordeal." The handkerchief is held 
in the hands in his lap when it is not in use, and this 
helps conceal the tiny book and the motions of drop- 
ping its leaves. The performer thus reads the ques- 
tions in his hands, and gives the most marvelous tests 
under the very eyes of his spectators. I consider this 
one of the best billet tricks extant. 


Since the first edition of this volume appeared I 
have developed the "Mystic Oracle of the Swinging 
Pendulums" described on page 29, into a much better 
trick. I think best to give the reader the benefit of my 
experiments so that he can work it more successfully ; 
as it is surely' a most mystifying effect. Any person 
can learn this in an hour, and he does not have to be 
a performer in order to work it well. 

I use a small mahogony center table, about twenty 
inches square on top, with four legs, one at each 
corner. The table is not rickety or creaky, neither is 
it more solid than any new table of that style. The 
top can be displaced possibly one inch, by a slight 
pressure of the hands. 


When the hands are placed on the table, it is pushed 
possibly one-half inch, so as to be slightly under ten- 
sion. I use no cover on the table. Now at first, I 
actually made perceptible pushes or vibrations ; but 
after an hour or so of practice, I found that by merely 
vv^atching a pendulum it would strike, and I could not 
detect that I was making motions. My subconscious 
mind does the work involuntarily, so that all I have 
to do is to look at a pendulum ; and once striking, it 
will continue to strike as long as I look at it, and will 
only cease when I look elsewhere. It seems to me 
that I do it by my mere will-power. However, I know 
that I must make involuntary vibrations. I recently 
permitted Mrs.. Powell, the wife of the famous magi- 
cian, to place her hands on the table, and I placed my 
hands on top of hers. The vibrations were so slight 
that she could detect nothing, and she was completely 
mystified, much to the amusement of her celebrated 
husband who knew the trick. 

The pendulum weights are hung on hair wire. They 
must be much heavier than bullets. Neither must the 
amplitude of their swing be very great. Each pen- 
dulum must be experimented with separately until 
it is just right, and until it will strike from the slight- 
est vibrations. The stand or rack, upon which the 
longer ones are hung, must be solid and not springy. 
I use a magician's "Crystal Clock" base, with a heavy 
brass tree rising out of its top. I suspend pendulums 
from the latter's branches. The base resembles the 
base of a tall brass lamp. Two pendulums are metal 
balls one-half inch in diameter, and two are wooden 
balls one inch in diameter. The latter have large holes 
bored in their bottoms reaching nearly through, and 
these are filled with melted lead. The metal balls 


swing in wine glasses, and the larger balls swing in the 
regular size glasses, as their diameter reduces their 
swing. These pendulurns are sixteen, eighteen, twenty 
and twenty-two inches long. The other pendulums I 
suspend in circular bottles from the lower ends of 
their corks. I use two bottles such as originally con- 
tain olive oil in the large grocery stores. They are 
about fifteen inches tall and very slender. One stands 
on each corner of the side of the table opposite me. 
Between these, grouped symmetrically, are other slen- 
der circular bottles, six, eight, and ten inches tall. The 
pendulums in them are of varying lengths and are 
quite heavy. In the center of this group I also set a 
wide bottle containing two lead dolls seated in swings, 
suspended from a cross stick. The shortest pendulum 
is about four inches long. 

Each pendulum wire has a tiny ring at its top, and 
this is hung in a little staple that is pushed up into the 
cork's bottom. The staple should sit edgewise to the 
spectator in all cases. Each pendulum must be ad- 
justed until it responds and strikes under the most 
delicate pressure. This is so that heavy vibrations 
are unnecessary. Light pendulums can not be con- 
trolled like heavy ones. The operator must have great 
patience, get in no hurry, and take plenty of time in 
bringing the pendulums to a striking amplitude of 

Short pendulums do not require vibrations every 
swing, to operate them, but a vibration every second 
or third swing will do. In case of laughing or talk- 
ing, I manage to slightly shake or jar my chest in time 
with the motions of the selected pendulum ; as any 
jar, if in time, helps to accelerate the motions. But 
it must also be remembered that a jar out of time 


retards them. I keep continually cautioning the sitter 
not to jar the table, explaining that ''this would cause 
all the pendulums to go to swinging and would thus 
mar the experiment." This makes him a trifle nervous 
so that he can not detect a slight vibration. It also pre- 
vents the correct idea from entering his mind. 

I request him to watch the selected pendulum in- 
tently, and this also helps the experiment along; for 
in watching it, he naturally exerts his will-power also. 
I generally place my palms on the back of the sitter's 
hands which rest upon the table, while he sits beside 
me on a slightly elevated seat. This is one of the few 
tricks that will bear indefinite repetition. 


There is probably no more effective trick than the 
one described in Number III of "Half Hours with 
Mediums," on page 14 of this volume. Since the vol- 
ume was first published I have improved my method 
somewhat, and this makes- it much more effective. 

I first prepare the message for my subject, address- 
ing him by name, and signing the name of some one 
who is dead that he knows, if it be possible to secure 
the name secretly. This message I write on one sheet 
of a quite small tablet, and fold it in the middle. I 
place this between the two backs of the envelope, and 
then seal the outer flap carefully to the inner one. 

I have several tablets and envelopes in a small box 
of stationery. I ask the subject to select a sheet from 
one of the tablets, which he does. I next ask him to 
take an envelope ; but I have the prepared one on top 
of the others, and I say, "Just take an envelope, 
please." He invariably takes the first one. I now 
ask him to place his folded sheet in the center of this 



envelope, as nearly as he can, and to seal the latter. 
This he does; and in placing it in so carefully, he 
naturally sees that the envelope is empty, without 
having his suspicion aroused by my suggesting such 
a thing. He does as directed. 

I next ask him to hold his sealed envelope on its 
lower edge on the table, and not to let it leave his 
hands, but to permit me to grasp it with my right 
fingers, which I proceed to do. After a time I cause 
the table to rap three times, by slightly moving my 
foot, with my shoe pressing against the table leg. 
This makes splendid raps. I then show him that my 
hands are empty ; and taking his envelope, I say, "Let 
me see if you have a message." I tear off the end 
carefully, and insert my fingers in the back compart- 
ment, removing and handing him his message before 
his very eyes. As he reads it, my left hand secretly 
exchanges the envelope just used for a duplicate ordi- 
nary one, torn open in the same manner. This has 
been placed in my left coat pocket in advance for this 
purpose, and I silently drop the original into my 
pocket and withdraw the dummy. As he finishes read- 
ing, I am fingering the dummy, and I hand this to him 
asking him to keep all as a souvenir. Really this is 
as effective as any slate or billet test I have ever seen. 


There is quite an improvement in the manner of 
working the trick performed by Dr. Schlessinger, and 
which is described in the chapter entitled, "Some Un- 
usual Mediumistic Phenomena." In this, the subject 
places the folded billets (which are contained in a 
hollow skull or hat) under the table. There he selects 
them, one at a time, at random, and places them in the 



hands of the performer, which are also held under the 
table. Neither the performer nor the subject sees the 
billets; yet the performer selects the one containing 
the name of the dead person, and hands it back to the 
subject, without bringing it from under the table, stat- 
ing that this is the name of the person who is dead. 
He also requests the subject to hold it below the table, 
so that he (the performer) can not see it, and to there 
examine it and see if the performer be correct. When 
the subject does this, then the performer proceeds to 
read the name without seeing the paper. The per- 
former also hands other billets back to the hand of the 
subject under the table, telling him that these are the 
names of living persons, and at the same time reading 
the names, with his clairvoyant power. 

The method is simple. The name of the dead person 
is secretly selected, as I previously described in the 
chapter mentioned, and it is memorized. This billet the 
performer folds in a way slightly different from the 
others, so that he can tell by feeling when it is placed in 
his hands. Generally I make the last fold, and then 
quickly and secretly crimp or fold over one corner of 
the billet. I also select a second choice, as previously 
described, and memorize this name, and this time crimp 
two of the corners. Then I select and memorize a 
third choice, and this time do not crimp either corner ; 
but on making the last fold of the billet, I do so in 
such a manner that one fold of the paper does not 
extend to the end of the other fold, but falls short a 
quarter of an inch. Now, under the table, I can 
quickly tell these names by feeling. This, however, 
requires a good memory and considerable care. 

Now, most of the time I am right ; and after select- 
ing and reading the correct name, I select and read 



the other living names that I have crimped. How- 
ever, should I miss my guess at first, as sometimes 
happens, just as the subject starts to say I am wrong, 
and as soon as I can see that I have failed, I interrupt 
him before he can finish his sentence, just as if I had 
discovered my own error, and say, "No, that is not the 
dead one, either. That is so-and-so (giving the name). 
Of course he (or she) is alive." Then I proceed to 
my second choice, which in most cases is correct ; and 
in rare cases I am compelled to go to the third choice, 
before getting the dead person's name; but the subject 
thinks nothing of these errors, and they are completely 
overshadowed by my reading of the names in so mys- 
terious a manner. 

Of course, on rare occasions, I must give up the 
experiment, saying conditions are not right, and that I 
will do something else; but I have become so certain 
in working the experiment that I never consider the 
possibility of failure. I am indebted to Mr. James Louis 
Kellogg of New York City for this improvement. He 
had the good fortune to witness an experiment of Dr. 
Schlessinger's where this improvement was used. 


I must also make mention here of a talking table, 
that a person of whom I know is completing at this 
writing. The table may be taken apart and put to- 
gether by the investigator, and nothing suspicious will 
be found. He then asks questions of the spirits, and 
holds his ear to the table for the reply. The table 
replies in human language, but the sounds are quite 
indistinct and ghostly. 

The table may be taken to any room, and everything 



searched and examined ; yet it will work just the same. 
It may be lifted from the floor and held in the air, but 
this makes no difference. Now this is certainly quite 

All of my readers may not know that if a coil of 
wire be run secretly around a room, either under the 
floor or in any other concealed position ; and if a tele- 
phone transmitter be attached to it from some other 
building; that a telephone which is not connected by 
any wires whatever, but that is simply located any- 
where within the coil, will repeat all words spoken 
into the transmitter. This is not wireless telephony, 
as many may suppose, but is simply a case of induc- 
tion. It is the same thing that frequently causes a 
wire to transmit words over another wire running par- 
allel to it, if the latter have a ground return. Mr. 
Charles Robbins, Electrical Engineer, mentioned else- 
where in this volume, informs me that this thing has 
been exhibited at several electrical shows. 

Now, the man who is making this table to which I 
have referred, uses this principle. He runs a secret 
coil around each room, and puts the receiver in the 
top board of the table, the center portions of which 
are hollow. In fact, the top of the table appears to be 
veneered, and is quite thin. He pours melted paraffine 
in the hollow around the apparatus, so as to hold it 
steady and make all parts sound alike. Electricians 
can easily work out the details. He conceals two or 
three transmitters behind ornaments in each room, 
and any words spoken in the rooms are carried to the 
distant confederate. 

I have contemplated making a talking trumpet on 
this plan. The trumpet should be a couple of inches 
in diameter at the middle, and taper to a half inch at 



each end. Ear-pieces should also be put on the ends 
to cover the ears, or else old-time phonograph ear 
tubes should be used. The trumpet would be some- 
thing like the one used by Mrs. Blake, the medium, 
and which is pictured and described in my pamphlet, 
The History of a Strange Case. 

The same man I have just mentioned, is also experi- 
menting with a view to using the Hertzian waves of 
wireless telegraphy, for moving distant objects without 
mechanical contact ; and for controlling the motions of 
distant objects. Of course these objects must have a 
preparation that can not be discovered. At this writ- 
ing I can not say just how he will succeed. He has 
also stated that he will produce in a room what he 
calls ''Whispering or Echoing Voices," which will be 
voices in the very air of the room. He also says he 
thinks it possible to cause a sheet of paper or card 
held in the operator's hand, to speak and act like a 
telephone diaphragm. He expects to wire the opera- 
tor in some manner, but this part will be secret, of 
course. He thinks a subject can then carry on a con- 
versation with this sheet of paper. In such case I 
would think that the sheet of paper must be double, 
and have within it a very thin sheet of iron. I would 
also think the operator must palm a secret coil in the 
hand holding the sheet, and that this must be connected 
with the wires on his person. I must say, however, 
that I doubt the feasibility of these last experiments; 
but I desire to call such things to the attention of 


Abbott, David P., 280; correspond- 
ence in Open Court, 266; Fa- 
ther's test, 217, 221; reply to 
Dr. O. O. Burgess, 283; Tests 
given, 9, 39, S9i 218. 

Abbott, James Asahel, name used 
in test, 221. 

Accordion sealed, 286. 

Actor, Magician an, 115. 

Alcohol, Odorless, loi, 105, 177. 

Aluminum trumpets, 288. 

Apparition of a voice, 270. 

Apparitions, 267. 

Artificial hand, 33, 57, 277. 

Assistant acts as another sitter, 
38; as porter, 38; concealed by 
draperies, 36. 

Astrology, The relation of me- 
diumship to, 245 ff. 

Attention, Control of, 153, 182. 

Bag with two compartments, 148. 

Balmain's Luminous Paint, 63, 71. 

Base-board, Trap in, 183. 

Basket, Billet-changing, 206, 209. 

Believer moves into a block near 
a medium for purposes of in- 
vestigation, 186. 

Believers' billets collected by me- 
diums, 247, 317; Jest of me- 
dium at expense of, 238. 

Benedict, ]Mr. Edward, a magi- 
cian, 163, 165, 265. 

Best patrons of mediums, 85. 

Bible service tests, 199, 205; 
adapted for double parlors, 

Billet-changing basket, 206, 209. 

Billet tests: Bible service tests, 
199, 205; The same adapted for 
double parlors, 209; City Di- 
rectory used, 167; Impression 
of writing secretly obtained, 
106; List of names to include 
a dead person, 57, 218; Me- 
dium answers questions with- 
out touching them: (i) while 
they are held aloft by his man- 
ager, 195, 200, (2) while they 
are suspended from the ceiling 
in a bag, 198, 204, (3) while 
they lie on a table and he walks 
about the room, 199, 207; while 
in a double parlor, 209, (4) 
with Card Servant e and black- 
board in the wings of the stage, 
212; Method of obtaining a se- 
cret impression of writing, 164; 
Odorless alcohol used, 101; Pre- 
pared book used, 169; Prepared 
clip-board used, 170; Prepared 
table, 80; Question transferred 
to slate held by sitter, 81; Ques- 
tions written and retained by 
spectators and answered by 
blindfolded lady on stage, 253 
ff. : (i) questions answered 
which are written on specta- 
tor's own paper and retained 
in their pockets, 257, (2) ques- 
tions answered which are 
thought of by spectators but 
not written, 258; Reading 
sealed billets before a company 
in absolute darkness, 82; Skull 
cap worn by medium effectively 
used, 177; Store room reading 



wkh the use of wax impres- 
sions, 166; "Switch" and "One 
Ahead" principle employed, 174; 
"Switching" the billets, 171; 
Trick envelope with a double 
front, 16, 17; The same with 
a slot cut in its face, 41, 45; 
Washington Irving Bishop's 
sealed letter reading in a new 
dress, 1 1 ; The same improved, 
263; Wireless telephone, 214. 

Billets of believers collected by 
mediums, 13, 247, 317. 

Bishop's, Washington Irving, 
sealed letter reading, 194; Im- 
provement on, 263; In a new 
dress, s, 11. 

"Black chapter," 243. 

Blackboard in the wings of the 
stage. Use of a, 213. 

Blindfolded, Medium, 195; with 
a kid glove, 6, 11, 202. 

Blotter pad. Use of a, 251, 

Blue Book, The, 278; of Boston, 
The, 192; of Kansas City, 278; 
of Omaha, 14. 

Blue flame on the surface of 
water, 41. 

Bodily ailments treated by me- 
diums, 2"]. 

Book prepared with carbon sheet, 

Books of "Dope," 75. 

Boston, the Blue Book of, 192. 

Boulder of gold quartz material- 
ized, 240. 

Buddhist priest. Rev. Swami 
Mazzininanda, 242. 

Burgess, Dr. O. O., submits a 
puzzling case, 280 ff. 

Burr, Aaron, name used in test, 

Cabinet, 166, 179, 235. 

Cage of wire, screwed to the 

floor, 2Z7. 
Camp of mediums in Indiana, 59. 
Canvassing, Information collected 

while, 19. 
Carbon sheet. Book prepared with, 

170; White, 254. 

Card Servante, Use of a, 212. 
Cards for forcing, Pack of, 147. 
Carus, Dr. Paul, Soul of Man, 

Cases, Mediums on the lookout 

for, 184. 
Catalogue of private readings, 192; 

of information, 270, 271; of 

questions, 13. 
Ceiling, Trap in, 179. 
Chair, Method of preparing a 

trick, no. 
Chart containing impression of 

sitter's palm, 248. 
Chemical tricks, 190. 
Chest, Light and heavy, 34. 
Chicago, 242; Portrait mediums 

in, 241, 294; War of, against 

mediums, 246. 
Child, Materialization of a, 73. 
Clip-board, Use of, 170. 
Coat or hat. Information from, 

Cocoa butter. Use of, 168. 
Collection of written and signed 

questions, 247, 317. 
Colors, Words written in, 162. 
Confederates often respectable 

persons, 271. 
Confessions burned, 137; means 

of discovering, 135. 
Consolation in occultism, 4. 
Control of attention, 153. 
Convent, Entertainment given at 

a, 99. 
Cornell University, 285. 
Corner torn from slip of paper, 

CcsmopoUtan Magazine, 285. 
Costumes of gauze, 71. 
Couch used in trances, 36. 
Council Bluffs, 39, 51, 52, 55. 
Court plaster method, 191. 
Cream, Use of, 168. 
Crow, John A., name used in 

test, 26. 
Crystal gazing, 54, 98. 

Dark, Raps in the, 56; seance, 
59, 266; seance. Billet work in, 
82; seance evidence of trick- 



eT» 54; seance losing prestige, 

Davenport Brothers, 284. 
"D. E." (dead easy), 192. 
Deadwood, 26. 
Dealers in mediums* secrets, 114, 

273; Geo. L. Williams 8f Co., 

106, 154, 168; Yost & Co., 285, 
Death, Life after, 2, 193. 
Deceptive grip, 62. 
Denver, 53. 
Developing a wax impression, 108, 

168; Powders for, 165, 169. 
Dictionary, Spirit, 93; test, Yost's 

spiritualistic slate and, 90. 
Directory of city used, 38, 167, 

251, 257. 
Disease and place of death, How 

to tell the, 222, 226. 
"Dope," Books of, 75. 
Draperies, Assistant concealed by, 

Dummy card burned, 250; enve- 
lopes, 201, 203; tablets, 254. 

E., Rev. Madame, celebrated oc- 
cultist, trance medium, clair- 
voyant, etc., 5. 

Egyptian queen. Materialization 
of. 72. 

Evans, Henry Ridgely, Shaw's 
Magical Instructor, 286; The 
Spirit World Unmasked, 284. 

Expert medium, Mr. Abbott's call 
on, 39. 

Expose of spooks, 239. 

Fashion in mediumship, 53. 

Fay, Annie Eva, 168; Cotton 
bandage test of, 286; Perform- 
ances of the, type, 253 ff. 

Fee paid for exerting spiritual in- 
fluence, 26. 

Figures, Methods of forcing the 
selection of a sum of, 160. 

Fishing for information, 60; Sys- 
tems of, 66. 

Flame on the surface of water, 41. 

Flap, 144, 150, 154, 156, 157. 

Flash light. Use of the pocket-, 
84. 293. 

Floor, Trap in, T79. 

Flowers concealed under confed- 
erate's skirts, 52; Materializa- 
tion of, 50; received with slate 
message, 138. 

Forcing the choice of a certain 
page in a book, 159; of a sum 
of figures, 160; of a word, 147; 
of a word which is to appear on 
a slate, 157; of two slates, 131; 
Pack of cards for, 147. 

Fortune - telling, ability required 
of a medium, 247; Relation of 
mediumship to, 245 ff. 

Fraud founded on the genuine, 5. 

Fulton, the steamboat man, Long 
letter from, 308. 

Gauze, Costumes of, 71. 

Girdle, Magic, 186. 

Glass plate. Impression transferred 

to, 169. 
Glove, Blindfolding with a kid, 6, 

II, 19s, 202. 
Gold quartz materialized, Boulder 

of, 240. 
Grave stones. Information from, 

19, 192, 270. 
Guesswork, Information given by, 

Guide writing from dictation, 17. 
Guides, 54. 

H — , Dr. Lee, pugilist, preacher 
and medium, 20. 

Half Hours with Mediums, i ff. 

Hamlet, 5. 

Hand, Artificial, 57, 277; A rap- 
ping, 33- 

Ilangtown, 222. 

Hardin, Mr. Henry, pseud, of E. 
A. Parsons, of New Haven, 
Conn., 85. 

Hat or coat, Information from, 

Head telephone, Use of a, 207, 

Heaven, Treasury of, 241. 

Hermann the conjurer, 285. 

Hoffman's Later Magic, 85. 



Holt, Cora, name used in test, 

Hotel room, Tests in a, 76. 

House, fitted with mechanical 
rappers, 292; questions, Read- 
ing of, 256. 

Hyslop, Professor, name used in 
test, 44. 

Immortality, 217, 267, 280, 283; 
Proof required of, i. 

Impromptu or extempore manner 
in which mediums must fre- 
quently work, 184. 

Indian chief. Materialization of, 
T2:, conjurers, 86; guides, 54; 
magic, 116, 

Indiana, Camp of mediums in, 59. 

Influence, Fee paid for exerting 
spiritual, 26. 

Information, Catalogued, 270, 271; 
Fishing for, 60; from the city 
directory, 167; from the daily 
papers, 192, 270; from grave- 
yards, 19, 192, 270; from hat 
or coat, 38; from local confed- 
erate, 36; from other mediums 
collected in books, 75; from 
speaking tubes, 191; from writ- 
ing, 178; given by guesswork, 
177; inferred from writing, 177; 
Means of getting, 19, 192, 270, 
316; obtained by a secret con- 
federate, 38; through rubber 
tube, 37. 

Irish spirit, 266, 268. 

Ithaca, N. Y., 285. 

Jest of medium and confederates 
at the expense of believers, 238. 

Jesus Christ, Dr. Schlossenger's 
vision of, 233. 

Kansas City, 26^, 277; Blue Book 

of, 278. 
Kellar, the magician. Spirit tie of, 

Kid glove, Blindfolded with help 

of, 6, u, 202. 
Krishna, Spirit of the Master, 244. 

Late call, 54. 

Letter, from medium at a dis- 
tance, 15; filched from sitter's 
pocket, 20; replaced in sitter's 
pocket, 24. 

Levi, Dr. Schlossenger's spirit 
guide, 229, 232. 

Life after death, 2, 193. 

Light, Pocket electric, 84, 293. 

Lincoln, Neb., 15, 268, 277, 293. 

Local confederate. Information 
from, 36. 

Los Angeles, 242. 

Luminous cheese cloth, 243; cos- 
tumes. Method of using, 72; 
costumes. Preparation of, 71; 
forms secretly secured from un- 
der the coat of a confederate, 
235; gauze concealed in a belt 
under a lady medium's cloth- 
ing, 236; letters, 56, 67. 

Magic girdle, 186. 

Magician an actor, 115. 

Magnetism, 54. 

Mahatma, 85; wearing a turban, 
200, 208. 

Mantel used in slatewriting tests, 

Materialization, 70, 235 ff. 

Materializing a trick, 59. 

Mazzininanda, Rev. Swami, a 
Buddhist priest, 242. 

Mechanical rappers, 190; House 
fitted with, 292. 

Mechanism of sympathy. The, 33n. 

Medium at a distance. Letter 
from, 15; forfeits $25, 181. 

Mediumistic phenomena, Some un- 
usual, 215 ff.; reading of sealed 
writings, 87 ff. 

Mediums, Chicago's war against, 
246; Los Angeles Herald's war 
against, 244. 

Mediumship, Palmistry combined 
with, 246, 249; teaching, a 
fraud, 242; Relation of, to 
palmistry, astrology, and for- 
tune-telling, 245 ff. 

Memory poor for details, 67. 

Mental tests, 63. 



Mind-reading, 57. 
Mine, Spirit, 241. 
Misdirection, Art of, 115, 135. 
Modern sorcery, 193 ff. 

Name appears on spirit portrait 
on demand, 310; of a dead per- 
son from among those of the 
living. How to select, 223; Me- 
dium tells sitter's, 25. 

Names, List of, to include a dead 
person, 57, 215, 218, 220. 

Newspaper used in slatewriting, 
122, 139, 151, 157, 163. 

Newspapers, Information from, 
192, 270. 

Nut-galls, Solution of, 190. 

Occultism, Consolation of, 4. 

Odorless alcohol. Sponge saturated 
with, 177. 

Oldtown, Kentucky, 291. 

Omaha, 26, 39, 55, 237, 239, 274, 
276; "Blue Book" of, 14. 

Open Court, The, 33n., 274; cor- 
respondence with Abbott, 266. 

Pack of cards for forcing, 147. 

Paint, Luminous, 56. 

Palm, Chart containing impression 
of sitter'e, 248; reading, 169. 

Palming, 168. 

Palmistry combined with medium- 
ship, 246, 249; Relation of me- 
diumship to, 245 fF. 

Paper writing, Independent, 153. 

Paraffin wax. Use of, 164, 254. 

Parsons, E. A., of New Haven, 
Conn., (Mr. Henry Hardin), 85. 

Pass of slates, 124, 127, 130, 141. 

Pendulums, Mystic oracle of the 
swinging, 29, 31. 

Personal affairs, Medium tells sit- 
ter's, 25. 

Phelps, Celestina Redexilana, 
name used in test, 221. 

Piper, Mrs., name used in test, 44. 

Place of death. How to tell the 
disease and, 222, 226. 

Places, List of, 216. 

Platform production. Slate tricks 
suitable for, 156, 161, 162. 

Plumbago, 255. 

Pocket, electric light, 84, 293 ; Let- 
ter filched from sitter's, 20; Let- 
ter replaced in sitter's, 24. 

Pockets in skirts, 190. 

Porter, Assistant as, 38. 

Portrait mediums in Chicago, 241, 
294; of a spirit appears grad- 
ually on canvas, 295, 300. 

Portraits, After effects on spirit, 
307, 310; developed from in- 
visible chemicals by spraying, 
Spirit, 299; produced from a 
cabinet. Spirit, 297. 

Portraiture, Mr. C. W. Bennett 
on spirit, 294; History of spirit, 

Powders for developing an invis- 
ible impression, 165, 169. 

Price asked for secrets, 88. 

Private readings. Catalogue of, 

Progressive Thinker, 142. 

Psychic phenomena, 193. 

Psychics: Facts and Theories, 215* 

Psychological, the most essential 
part of trick, 1 14. 

Psychometric tests, 183. 

Puzzling case. Dr. O. O. Burgess 
submits a, 280. 

Queen Oriana, Materialization of, 

Questions answered which are 
"thought of" but not written, 
258; catalogued, 13; Collection 
of written and signed, 317; 
written on spectator's own pa- 
per, and retained in their own 
pockets secretly read, 257; writ- 
ten and retained by spectators 
answered by a blindfolded lady 
on the stage, 253. 

Rappers, Mechanical, 190; House 
fitted with, 292. 

Rapping hand, 33. 

Raps, 216, 282; in the dark, 56, 
61; Production of, 220. 

Rasgorshek, Mr. Gabriel, a ma- 
gician, 166. 



Reaching rod, Telescopic, 278, 287, 
Reading, Ability of a medium to 

give, 245; question written on a 

slate by a sitter, 132. 
Readings of one medium and 

palmist, 249. 
Residence, Medium tells sitter's, 


Respectable persons. Confederates 
often, 271. 

Ring, Message written with a 
gold, 131; presented to spirit, 

Robbins, Mr. Charles W., elec- 
trical engineer, 214. 

Rope and tape-tying, 70, 227, 281, 
284, 287, 

Rubber stamp used to produce a 
message, 188; tube. Informa- 
tion through, 37; tube, Voices 
conducted to a trumpet by a 
concealed, 289. 

Sacramento, 222. 

San Francisco, 282; Examiner, 

Savage, Rev. Minot J., 227; His 
report of a strange case, 215. 

Schlessinger, Dr. C. S., 27, 58, 
95, 178, 216, 222, 225, 226, 227; 
C. S. Weller's report of mental 
tests given by, 228; his spirit 
guide Levi, 229; his vision of 
Jesus Christ, 233. 

School teacher. Questions of, 247. 

Scientific persons best subjects, 

Seance, a fraud, 279n. 

Sealed letter reading, Washing- 
ton Irving Bishop's, 194; in a 
new dress ,5, 11; Improvement 
on, 263. 

Sealed writings, Mediumistic read- 
ing of, 210; Methods of read- 
ing, 87, 94, 100, 194; Prepara- 
tion of, 91. 

Seating spectators, Method of, 71. 

Secrets, Family, 56, 68; means of 
discovering, 135; of mediums 
jealously guarded, 87. 

Selected word appears on slate, 

Selection of slates, 150; of a sum 
of figures. Methods of forcing 
the, 160; of a word which is to 
appear on a slate. Forcing the 

"Shall We Gather at the River," 

Silicate slate flap, 154. 

Sioux City, 230. 

Skeptics seated well back, 71. 

Skirts, Pockets in, 190. 

Skull cap with sponge saturated 
with odorless alcohol, 177. 

Slade's slate performance. Report 
of, 68. 

Slate and dictionary test, Yost's 
Spiritualistic, 90. 

Slate leaving sitter's sight, 182. 

Slate writing tests: Chemical 
tricks, 190; flower or other to- 
ken received with a message, 
138; How to force the selection 
of the desired slates, 131; How 
to pass the slates from hand to 
hand, 124; How to secretly 
read a question written on a 
slate by a sitter, when a stack 
of slates is used, 132; Medium 
prepares message on slates in 
investigator's room, 186, 187; 
Message on sitter's own slates 
held on his own head, 76, 80; 
Message on a slate in colors 
chosen by the spectators and in 
answer to spoken questions, 162; 
Message on a slate resting in a 
chandelier, 23; Message pro- 
duced by an adroit exchange of 
slates, 189; Message received 
without slates leaving sitter's 
hands, 186; Message written in 
sitter's presence, 43, 47, 49; 
Message written with a gold 
ring belonging to the sitter, 
131; Message written with toes 
of medium, 191; Reporter mys- 
tified, 181; Rubber stamp to 
produce a message, 188; Sit- 
ter's own slates wrapped in pa* 



per in which they were pur- 
chased, 185; Slade's slate per- 
formance, Report of, 68; Slate 
tricks suitable for platform pro- 
duction: (i) With one slate 
and a flap, 156, (2) With two 
slates and a flap, 161, (3) With 
three slates and a flap, 162; 
SJate tricks where sitter brings 
his own slates, 179: (1) where 
medium does not touch them, 
179; (2) Slates wrapped in pa- 
per in which they were pur- 
chased, 185, (3) Without slates 
leaving sitter's hands, 186; 
Slates belong to sitter and me- 
dium does not touch them, 179; 
Slates secretly removed from 
sitter's shoulder by a confed- 
erate, 82; Some expert maneu- 
vering, 127; Trap in baseboard, 
181; Trap in ceiling or floor, 
179; Use of a prepared chair, 
97, no; Where message slate 
is passed to stack from mantel, 
122; With a double or hinged 
slate, and a flap, 150; With one 
slate and a flap, 156; With sev- 
eral small slates and one large 
one, 117, 132, 135; the same 
with expert maneuvering, 129; 
With stack of small slates and 
a rug or newspaper, 121; With 
three slates and a flap, 142, 147, 
149, 162; With two slates and 
a flap, 161; With two slates 
and a silicate flap, 153; With 
two slates, one being held un- 
der the table by the sitter, 138; 
With two slates, using the 
"pass," 125. 

Slates, Means of openig, 187; Se- 
lection of, 150. 

Soul of Man, by Dr. Carus, 274. 

Soul-mates, 310; Materialization 
of, 73- 

"Soul-travel," 243. 

Spectators, Method of seating, 71. 

Spelling, Spirits poor at, 307. 

Spermaceti wax, 255; Use of, 164. 

Sphinx, The, 181. 

Spirit communion, 293; paintings, 
59; poor at spelling, 307; por- 
trait. Name appears on, on de- 
mand, 310; portraits. After ef- 
fects on, 307, 310; portraits de- 
veloped from invisible chemicals 
by spraying, 299; portraits pro- 
duced from a cabinet, 297; por- 
traiture, Mr. C. W. Bennett on, 
294; portraiture, History of, 
296; slate-writing and billet 
tests, 114 ff.; tie of Kellar, the 
magician, 284; voices, lights, 
and raps, 62. 

Spirits poor at spelling, 307. 

Spooks, Expose of, 239. 

Spraying mechanism concealed in 
window casing, 313. 

Steel ring passed upon a sitter's 
arm, 69. 

Stockton, California, Swindle per- 
petrated in, 240. 

Store room tests, 35, 37, 166. 

Swindle of a judge of a supreme 
court, 74; of a lady by a me- 
dium, 28; in Stockton, Cali- 
fornia, 240. 

Switch of billets, 171; Another 
method of, 172; Tricks depend- 
ent on, 173. 

Switch of slates. See Pass. 

Table rapping, 53. 

Tablet, A prepared, 107, 164, 254. 

Tacoma, 241, 300. 

Telegraph information to assist- 
ant, 37. 

Telegraphy tests. Touch, 37. 

relephone. Use of a head, 207, 
256; Wireless, 214. 

Telescopic reaching rod, 278, 287; 
trumpet, 289. 

Tide is low. When the, 3. 

Token received with a slate mes- 
sage, 138. 

Topeka, 266. 

Touch telegraphy tests, 37. 

Touches in the dark, 61. 

Trance vision in Mahatma, 85. 

Trap in base-board, 183, 239; in 
ceiling and floor, 179. 



Traps, Various, 70, 237. 

Treasury of Heaven, 241. 

Trickery verified, 269. 

Trumpet moved into a tree, 291; 
seance, 266, 277; seance ex- 
plained, 268; seance with the 
medium securely tied, 280; Tel- 
escopic, 289; Voices from, 56, 
62, 289. 

Trumpets, Aluminum, 288. 

Tube, Information through rub- 
ber, 37; Reaching, 237; Small 
cloth, 167; Voices conducted to 
a trumpet by a concealed rub- 
ber, 289. 

Tubes, Information from speaking, 

Turban, Mahatma wearing a, 200, 

Ultramarine blue. Use of, 169. 

Vapor materialization, 75. 

Vest, Turning another's, 260; 
Turning one's own, 262. 

Vision of Jesus Christ, Dr. Schlos- 
senger's, 233. 

N^oices from trumpet, 56, 62,289; 
in the open air. Independent, 
290; through concealed speak- 
ing tubes, 2got 

War against mediums, Chicago's, 
246; Los Angeles Herald's, 244. 

Water, Blue flame on surface of, 

Wax impression. Developing a, 
168; Use of paraffin, 164, 254; 
Use of spermaceti, 164. 

Williams, George L., & Co., deal- 
ers in secrets, 106, 154, 168. 

Wilson, Dr. A. M., of Kansas 
City, Mo., editor of The 
Sphinx, 181, 183. 

\\'ings of a stage, Use of a black- 
board in the, 213. 

Wire cage screwed to the floor, 

Wireless telephone, 214. 

Wooldridge, Report of Clifton R., 
of the Chicago Police Depart- 
ment, 238, 246. 

Word which is to appear on a 
slate. Forcing the selection of 
a, 157. 

Writing, Impression of, developed, 

Yost & Company of Philadelphia, 
dealers in magical apparatus, 
spiritualistic secrets, etc., 285. 

Yost's spiritualistic slate and dic- 
tionary test, 90. 

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